The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has voiced concerns about the impact of the new European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) that is being set up following a recent initiative by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
The Juncker Plan aims to leverage investments in the magnitude of €315bn by covering part of the risk of projects. For this purpose, the EU plans to set up a guarantee fund. Of the €8bn that are to be taken out of the EU budget for the new guarantee fund, EUR 2.7bn are to come from the transport envelope of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), in particular from the general grant part of the CEF envelope.
This means that the overall sum available for grant funding of transport projects (in non-cohesion countries) is considerably cut by the Juncker plan, ESPO explained.
The existing envelopes for financial instruments and transport investments in cohesion countries remain untouched.On the other hand, under the TEN-T Guidelines, ports have been given strategic importance in defining the transport needs of Europe.
“However, under the EFSI, any European transport project independent of location and mode of transport can receive funding. This shifts the logic away from the carefully chosen transport priorities of the CEF and TEN-T,” ESPO said in a release.
“We are a little concerned about what we have learned today about the new European Fund for Strategic Investment. By shifting a part of the CEF grant money to the new financial instruments we are not only diminishing the possibility for ports of receiving a grant but there also seems to be a possible shift in priorities. The criteria used by the EIB to assess projects are very different from the priorities set by the new TEN-T policy, which recognises the important role of ports as core nodes of Europe’s Transport Infrastructure and entry and exit points to the European corridors,” ESPO Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost said.
Moreover, the EFSI does not ring-fence money for any particular type of investments. Different sectors ranging from energy, to education and health will be competing for financing.
ESPO said that, as a result, the money transferred from the CEF could thus end up being absorbed by other sectors if these are better able to present mature projects with clear revenue streams.