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FIEC welcomes the Connecting Europe Package

BRUSSELS/BELGIUM, December 3, 2013 - FIEC takes note of the opportunities created by the Connecting Europe Facility and the new TEN-T Guidelines in realizing a real transport network across the EU. Now, the ball is in the court of the Member States who have to commit themselves to make these projects a reality.

FIEC remains confident that the new mechanism will be able to play a significant leverage role, although the cuts made by the Council to the initial Commission’s proposal are counterproductive considering the funding needs.

The creation of this Facility corresponds to a request made by FIEC many years ago, namely to have a single and centralized infrastructure fund within the EU budget in order to make projects of EU added-value actually happen. The fact that cross-border sections can be co-financed up to 40% is a positive element.

“What is crucial now, is the Member States’ political commitment, in particular if you consider that the Council has softened the Commission’s initial proposal for a binding target by 2030,” stresses Thomas Schleicher, FIEC President. “Member States now have to work seriously on the projects they have pushed forward!”

“Moreover, I fully agree with what MEP Brian Simpson said in his conclusions of the TEN-T DAYS 2013, namely that as long as Member States will think purely at a national level, the European Core Network will not happen”, adds Schleicher. “Member States have to start thinking European!”

Considering transport infrastructure, Schleicher regrets that the list of eligible projects has been extended quite significantly. This is in contradiction to the initial objective of concentrating available funds on a restricted number of projects in order to ensure their realization, which was strongly supported by FIEC.

Finally, FIEC welcomes the various innovative financial instruments which have been developed in the past years and wishes to quickly see the outcome of these instruments. “However, they will serve no purpose if there is no stable project pipeline,” says Schleicher. “Again, Member States have to take responsibility for making the best use of the opportunities which are offered to them.”

“Network infrastructure is the backbone of EU’s economy,” concludes Schleicher, “austerity policies must not stop investment into infrastructure necessary to ensure growth and jobs in the EU.”