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Trans-European energy networks
New guidelines for trans-European energy networks (TEN-E) list and rank, according to the objectives and priorities laid down, projects eligible for Community assistance, and introduce the concept of 'project of European interest'. They also strengthen project coordination and now fully incorporate the new Member States.
Decision No 1364/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 September 2006 laying down guidelines for trans-European energy networks and repealing Decision 96/391/EC and Decision No 1229/2003/EC.
The new guidelines for trans-European energy networks (TEN-E) list and rank, according to the objectives and priorities laid down, projects eligible for Community assistance. They also introduce the concept of 'project of European interest'.
Defining the objectives of the TEN-E
The interconnection, interoperability and development of trans-European networks for transporting electricity and gas are essential for the effective operation of the internal energy market in particular and the internal market in general. Users should have access to higher-quality services and a wider choice as a result of the diversification of energy sources, at more competitive prices. Closer links should therefore be established between national markets and the EU as a whole. With that in mind, the new Member States are now fully incorporated into the Community TEN-E guidelines.
TEN-E also play a crucial role in ensuring the security and diversification of supply. Interoperability with the energy networks of third countries (accession and candidate countries and other countries in Europe, in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian Sea basins, and in the Middle East and Gulf regions) is essential.
Access to TEN-E also helps to reduce the isolation of the less-favoured, island, landlocked or remote regions, thus strengthening territorial cohesion in the European Union (EU).
The interconnection of TEN-E also promotes sustainable development, in particular by improving the links between renewable energy production installations and using more efficient technologies, thus reducing losses and the environmental risks associated with the transportation and transmission of energy.
Projects of common interest, priority projects and projects of European interest
Projects of common interest relate to the electricity and gas networks referred to in the Decision meeting the objectives and priorities laid down in it. They must display potential economic viability. The economic viability of a project is assessed by means of a cost-benefit analysis in terms of the environment, the security of supply and territorial cohesion. Projects of common interest are listed in Annexes II and III to the Decision.
Priority projects are selected from among the projects of common interest. To be eligible, they must have a significant impact on the proper functioning of the internal market, on the security of supply and/or the use of renewable energy sources. Priority projects, which are listed in Annex I to the Decision, have priority for the granting of Community financial assistance.
Certain priority projects of a cross-border nature or which have a significant impact on cross-border transmission capacity are declared to be projects of European interest. Also listed in Annex I, projects of European interest have priority for the granting of Community funding under the TEN-E budget and particular attention is given to their funding under other Community budgets.
A favourable framework for the development of TEN-E
The Community guidelines for TEN-E stress the importance of facilitating and speeding up the completion of projects, in particular projects of European interest.
The Member States must take all measures necessary to minimise delays while complying with environmental rules. The authorisation procedures must be completed rapidly. The third countries involved must also facilitate the completion of projects partly situated on their territory in accordance with the Energy Charter Treaty.
The new guidelines also establish a framework for closer cooperation, in particular for projects of European interest. They provide for an exchange of information and the organisation of coordination meetings between the Member States for implementing the cross-border sections of networks.
The intervention of a European coordinator is provided for where a project of European interest encounters significant delays or implementation difficulties. His or her tasks include facilitating coordination between the various parties involved in implementing the cross-border section of a network and monitoring the progress of the project.
A European coordinator may also intervene in the case of other projects relating to TEN-E at the request of the Member States concerned.
The exceptional nature of the aid
The budget allocated to the TEN-E (around EUR 20 million per year) is mainly intended for financing feasibility studies. Other Community instruments may also step in to part-finance investments, for example the Structural Funds in the convergence regions.
However, such financial assistance is exceptional and may not lead to any distortion of competition. As a rule, the construction and maintenance of energy infrastructure should be subject to market principles.
The establishment and development of trans-European networks, including in the energy sector, are set out in Article 154 of the Treaty establishing the European Community. Articles 155 and 156 of the EC Treaty provide for the adoption of guidelines to define the objectives, priorities and broad lines of measures for them.
The new Community guidelines update the guidelines adopted in 2003, which themselves updated the original guidelines adopted in 1996.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
OJ L 262 of 22.9.2006
- For further information, please consult the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport's webpage " Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E) "