Commission Presents Proposal for Regulation on Guidelines for Trans-European Energy Infrastructure

The Commission has presented its proposal for a Regulation on Guidelines for Trans-European Energy Infrastructure that aims at cutting permitting times for priority projects and providing co-financing in certain cases. Major efforts are needed to modernise and expand Europe’s energy infrastructure and to interconnect networks across borders to reach Europe’s 2020 goals, the European Commission stated. Presently, permitting procedures often take very long and not all projects  are commercially viable.

The Commission’s proposal is part of the Connecting Europe Facility and the Project Bond Initiative, a plan for a EUR 50 billion boost to Europe’s transport, energy and digital networks, which was revealed yesterday. Out of this sum EUR 9.1 billion are dedicated to energy, a sector for which the Commission estimates that investments are needed of more than EUR 200 billion up to 2020.

The Commission’s proposal for a regulation lays down rules for the timely development and interoperability of trans-European energy networks. It aims at the full integration of the internal energy market, including by ensuring that no Member State is isolated from the European network. It wants to contribute to sustainable development and protection of the environment by enabling the Union to achieve its 20-20-20 targets, while ensuring security of supply and solidarity among Member States.

The draft Regulation proposes to implement these priorities by:

  • Laying down rules to identify projects of common interest necessary to implement priority corridors and areas and falling under the energy infrastructure categories in electricity, gas, oil, and carbon dioxide set out in its Annex II (Chapter II);
  • Facilitating the timely implementation of projects of common interest by accelerating permit granting and enhancing public participation (Chapter III);
  • Providing rules for cross-border allocation of costs and risk-related incentives for projects of common interest (Chapter IV);
  • Determining conditions for eligibility of projects of common interest for Union financial assistance under the proposed Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council establishing the Connecting Europe Facility (Chapter V).

As the Commission points out, projects of common interest shall benefit from a special permit granting procedure which is easier, faster and more transparent than normal procedures. According to the proposed regulation, each Member State is required to designate a single competent authority responsible – “a one stop shop ” – for the completion of the entire permit granting process (Article 9). The whole permit granting procedure shall not exceed 3 years (Article 11).

The selection of projects of common interest shall be carried out in a two stage process on regional level and on EU level. The final decision on the Union-wide list of projects of common interest shall be taken by the Commission. The first list shall be adopted by 31 July 2013 and then updated every two years (Article 3).

Projects that could be financed under the regulation could be an offshore grid in the Northern Seas to transport electricity produced by offshore wind parks to consumers in the big cities, innovative projects to store electricity, complex gas pipeline projects that allow bringing gas from new supply sources, such as the Caspian region into the EU and compressors which enable gas to flow in both directions, allowing countries to help each other out in the event of a gas crisis.

Sources: European Commission Proposal for Regulation on Guidelines for Trans-European Energy Infrastructure, Eurepean Commission Information on Connecting Europe Facility and Project Bond Initiative

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