Vice-President and Commissioner for Transport
Connecting Europe Facility – Enabling Europe's future growth
Conference on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)/Brussels
2 October 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow European commissioners,
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is the best example of European 'added value' that the EU budget can deliver. It puts EU resources into projects that are important for all of Europe. This is not always easy: local people on the ground quite rightly want connections that work for them. But we have to make sure those connections come from somewhere and go to somewhere, that they link up to a European network. That is Europe's added value.
There is such pressure on our national budgets that each country will naturally prioritise its own projects, not the transnational ones. That is why the CEF makes such sense. Targeted investments in essential infrastructure will help to create jobs and boost growth and competitiveness, at a time when Europe needs them the most. Job creation relates to works such as construction, mechanical engineering and business services. It is also stimulated by the indirect economic effects from using new infrastructure. Infrastructure investments are estimated to create 18,000 jobs for every $1 billion in new investment spending. Developing high-performance trans-European infrastructure can be a growth enabler for the whole European economy, beyond the sectors covered by the CEF.
CEF will indeed provide support to sectors where European companies lead the world against a backdrop of fierce competition. These leaders in transport, energy and telecommunications are present today. We all know them. But it also concerns manufacturing companies such as Siemens, Alstom, Vesta or Nokia, and services providers like Skype and Tomtom. But the benefits of efficient transport and energy systems go well beyond this – they affect almost all businesses and citizens. If transport does not flow or connect smoothly, our economy will fail to grow and we risk losing our competitive edge in the global marketplace. Put simply, transport enables us to connect to compete.
Clearly, investments in infrastructure and in the European single market mean investments in Europe's future growth. On costs, developing the infrastructure to match Europe's rising transport demand will require 1.5 trillion euros up to 2030. Just up to 2020, we will need about 500 billion euros to complete the trans-European network. Of that, about half will be needed to remove the main bottlenecks. Since it is obvious that the available public money will not be enough, we need to look for a longer-term source of investment, which could be the private sector. This is where the EU can act, by helping to generate the large amounts of infrastructure investment that we need – with the CEF. This is the guarantee that the necessary investments will be made and the infrastructure that Europe needs will get built. We are confident that the EU's strong track record in funding transport projects will help to generate some impressive leveraged cash input from the private sector: the €31.7 billion proposed for transport is expected to generate about €140-150 billion of investments.
Let me give you just a few examples of major European transport projects – cross-border links vital for citizens and businesses – which I believe can only be successfully built thanks to CEF funding. Projects such as:
the Canal Seine-Nord, connecting France's inland waterway network to the Belgian, Dutch and German networks and ports as well to the main ports of the Northern Range;
the Lyon–Turin and Fehmarn Belt links, the Brenner Tunnel; and
Rail Baltic, which will connect Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – and Finland, through rail ferry services – with Poland and the rest of the EU.
Due to their international nature and high costs, we would need to pool assets under the CEF if these projects are to have a real chance of completion. That also holds for the urgent modernisations needed for Europe's air traffic management systems, for rail and aviation, among other areas.
A few months ago, EU transport ministers agreed with the general principles of the CEF and with launching the project bond pilot phase. The negotiations will continue and the hardest part, about the money, is still ahead of us. This is where we really need the support of Member States to make it work. Every European company and citizen is dependent on an efficient transport system. Now, with the economic crisis, Europe needs – more than ever – to improve its mobility and to invest in sustainable transport networks. This requires long-term funds and commitments from governments. And this is what the CEF, with your help, is intended to deliver.
Thank you for your attention.