The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a genuinely European instrument aimed at supporting the development of high-performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the field of energy, telecommunications and transport. CEF investments are also intended to act as a catalyst to attract further funding from the private sector and other public sector actors.
The Connecting Europe Facility includes three thematic sectors:
- Energy: CEF aims to close financial gaps and to reduce bottlenecks in the energy infrastructure to contribute to the Europe 2020 objectives. The thematic priorities will be smart grids, intelligent, electricity highways and cross-border CO2 cooperation.
- Telecommunication: Digital service infrastructures acts as a platform on which new industries can create innovative applications, and also build digital bridges to facilitate the mobility of citizens and businesses working across borders.
- Transport: CEF provides approximately € 23 billion for the modernisation of the European transport infrastructures, the construction of missing links and the removal of bottlenecks. The focus on environmentally-friendly transport will improve the sustainability of the transport systems in Europe.
CEF is also designed to attract private sector investments to infrastructure through a number of financial risk-sharing instruments, including special lending, guarantees and equity investments. These instruments aim to give credibility to infrastructure projects and to lower their risk profiles. The goal is to offer an alternative to the traditional grant funding and to plug financing gaps for strategic infrastructure investments.
The European Commission gives particular care to ensuring complementarities with interventions supported by other EU programmes, while avoiding potential overlaps. In particular, coordination is pursued in the implementation of CEF with the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the cohesion and structural funds, where the Commission has proposed that important parts of the budget for 2014-2020 be dedicated to projects related to telecommunication, energy and transport infrastructure. Coherence between CEF and the Horizon 2020 programme will guarantee that the research and innovation chain leading to deployment in infrastructure is not interrupted.