Four priorities for a future-oriented Connecting Europe Facility

(EurActiv, 5 Nov 2018) Swift implementation of the EU’s energy and climate commitments is only possible if the next EU budget gives a clear signal to invest in a transition to a low-carbon economy, write Lisa Fischer and Elisa Giannelli.

Lisa Fischer is a Senior Policy Advisor at E3G, an independent think tank operating to accelerate the global transition to a low carbon economy. Elisa Giannelli is a Junior Researcher at E3G.

Despite its limited envelope[1], the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) directly shapes the EU clean energy and climate landscape, as it is responsible for enabling the creation of an integrated and well-connected Energy Union. Following the Commission’s proposal in June 2018, the Parliament and Council are in the process of defining their positions. The energy and transport Committees will jointly vote on the Parliament’s position on November 22nd.

There are 4 priorities for designing a post-2020 Connecting Europe Facility that enables a modern, clean and connected Europe.

  1. Coherence with Clean Energy Package and Paris Agreement

Under the current CEF energy portfolio, the largest share of funding (€1.33 billion) has gone so far to 53 gas projects, followed by 48 electricity projects (€1.27 billion) and only two smart grid projects (€0.04 billion). The CEF proposal, as it stands, gives conflicting signals by allowing investments contrary to the EU’s climate goals, such as fossil fuel related investments. When negotiating, the European Parliament and the Council must not forget that the CEF is a key instrument to facilitate the Union’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to reach a zero-emission society.

Phasing out public funding for fossil fuel infrastructure is also an investment for an energy independent and modern Union. Investments contributing to increased gas consumption in the EU will raise future import bills and weaken EU energy security.

Considering the impacts of EU decarbonisation policies and the lifetime of gas infrastructures (around 40 years), further investment on these fossil projects would risk stranded assets and unnecessary spending, diverting it from more competitive and cleaner technologies.

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EurActiv, 5 Nov 2018: Four priorities for a future-oriented Connecting Europe Facility