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European Commission - Fact Sheet

The EU at work to bridge the investment gap in transport and stimulate the European economy

Brussels, 17 June 2016

Bridging the investment gap in Europe to stimulate the European economy is one of President Juncker's top priorities. The transport sector can make an important contribution to this agenda.

Why do we need investment in transport infrastructure?

Transport faces a wide range of financing challenges across the EU: underinvestment, lack of suitable financing solutions, ageing infrastructure, insufficiently developed and non-transparent pipelines of transport projects, continuous growth of urban populations, and regulatory and administrative barriers. The European Commission's Investment Plan can help address these issues, paving the way for the competitive and sustainable EU transport system of tomorrow.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) - the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe - aims to overcome current market failures by addressing market gaps and mobilising private investment. By investing in transport infrastructure, equipment, services and research, the EFSI is contributing to stimulating growth and competitiveness. Combining EFSI support with other EU funds is a key part of the overall commitment of the Commission to ensure EU funds are better used across all policy areas.

What are the opportunities for EU funding in the transport sector?

EFSI support can be combined with EU grants from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), Horizon 2020 as well as from those EU funds implemented by Member States’ authorities under shared management, namely the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds.

  • The Connecting Europe Facility has a grant budget of EUR 24.05 billion for TEN-T projects for the 2014-2020 period and the CEF Debt Instrument offers loans and guarantees through the European Investment Bank.The majority of the funding under the CEF will be delivered in the form of grants allocated following competitive calls for proposals.
  • The HORIZON 2020 budget includes EUR 6.3 million for smart, green and integrated transport for the 2014-2020 period.
  • The European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds foresee a total of approximately EUR 70 billion for the 2014-2020 period: EUR 35.6 billion for transport under the Cohesion Fund and EUR 34.5 billion for transport under the European Regional Development Fund.EFSI provides risk financing instruments. The EFSI and the ESI Funds are complementary and can be used together to mobilise further investment. The Commission issued explanatory guidelines on how to combine these Funds.

Who can apply for EFSI support and what kind of projects are eligible?

Companies, utilities, public sector entities, national promotional banks or other banks, and bespoke investment platforms can apply. With no specific target allocated by sector, EFSI can support operations consistent with European Union policies, recognising the importance of investments in transport infrastructures but also equipment and innovative technologies:

  • Ports, locks, airports, roads, dedicated rail lines connecting urban centres, logistic platforms and the deployment of traffic management systems on track and on-board trains (ERTMS) or planes (SESAR).
  • Rehabilitation and upgrade of the road and rail networks, including in urban city areas.
  • Greening of maritime and inland waterways infrastructure, fleets and vehicles, including LNG for ships or barges, alternative fuels, including electric mobility for cars.
  • Investments involving entities located or established in EU Member States and extending to countries falling within the scope of pre-accession and neighbourhood policies.

Transport projects such as the deployment of ERTMS and SESAR, greening of maritime and inland waterways transport and alternative fuels infrastructure along major roads, might be of a relatively small size. In such cases, they could benefit from pooling investors' resources together into national, sub-national, multi-country or regional investment platforms, and by involving National Promotional Banks (NPBs). By aggregating small projects, investment platforms provide greater diversification, greater deal flow and reduced risk.

How to apply for EFSI?

To apply for EFSI financing, project promoters can contact the EIB directly ( ) - they do not need to pass via a local authority or government. Projects seeking debt will be appraised by the EIB, before being submitted to the EFSI Investment Committee for selection and the EIB Board for final approval.

How to apply for CEF?

Interested parties can apply as a single applicant or as a part of a multi-applicant proposal. The agreement of the Member State(s) concerned by the proposed action has to be secured in both cases. The Innovation and Executive Agency (INEA) carries out the evaluation of the eligible proposals, supported by independent experts. Once the list of proposals recommended for funding is formally approved by the Commission, successful applicants are invited by INEA to prepare and sign individual grant agreements. INEA then works closely with the beneficiary on the technical and financial project implementation.

More information is available on INEA's website.

How to apply for HORIZON 2020?

The two-year work programmes announce the specific areas that will be funded by HORIZON2020. Look out for them on the online Participant Portal as they can be used as a calendar for the calls for proposals ("calls"), to be published during the year. Those wishing to respond to a call must submit a proposal before the deadline. The Participant Portal has clear instructions to guide you through the process.

More information on how to get funding is available on the HORIZON 2020 website.

Who can provide technical advice?

The European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the EIB to help strengthen and accelerate investment.

Services available via the Hub include project development support throughout all stages of the project cycle (from pre-feasibility to financing), as well as upstream or policy advice on market studies, sector strategies, and project screening.

Project promoters can access the EIAH at and submit a request for advice through the website.


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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