The opinion reflects the importance of infrastructure connections for territorial cohesion. It highlights the importance of cross-border connections and missing links and welcomes the simplification of the implementation of the CEF programme. It also welcomes that the proposal introduces an objective adapting TEN-T infrastructure to civilian-military dual-use, however, is concerned that eligibility of "dual use" is not defined in enough detail. The opinion also suggest adaptations of various CEF Core network corridors.
The European Parliament's adopted its report at its meeting on 12 December 2018, along with a mandate for negotiations with the Council.
The Transport Council of 3 December 2018 agreed a partial general approach on the proposal, excluding financial and horizontal issues for the moment, which are still under discussion as part of the EU budget for 2021-2027.
Interinstitutional negotiations (trilogues) concluded on 8 March 2019 with a partial provisional agreement (not covering the budget section), which leaves aside the questions relating to third countries. This partial provisional agreement was approved by Coreper on 14 March 2019 and endorsed by Parliament's TRAN and ITRE committees on 25 March 2019. The text was adopted by the full Parliament at first reading on 17 April 2019. Interinstitutional negotiations can restart once the long-term EU budget is agreed, with all remaining issues to be agreed at the second-reading stage.
There are several positions and legislative amendments of the corresponding CoR opinion that are reflected in the text, most importantly the reintroduction of "territorial, social and economic cohesion" as the general objective of the CEF and the removal of the suggestion to make 30 % of the amounts transferred from the Cohesion Fund immediately available to all Member States.
The opinion also covered a modification of the existing CEF regulation, anticipating the effects of a possible withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. It concerned the re-alignment of the relevant CEF corridors. This legislative proposal was adopted on 25 March 2019 when the final act was signed by EP and Council.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- reiterates that a European policy on safe, modern, sustainable and efficient transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure provided by the trans-European networks (TENs) is essential to strengthen the economic, social and territorial cohesion of all EU regions, including peripheral, outermost and island as well as demographically challenged regions, contributes to the proper functioning of the internal market and is necessary in order to achieve the objectives of many other EU policies, including climate and environment policy;
- considers that the voice of the cities and regions, which are responsible for policies to manage and develop mobility and public transport in their areas, should be listened to carefully;
- suggests encouraging cross-border projects, including by making use of European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs) or the mechanism for removing legal and administrative obstacles in a cross-border context, proposed by the Commission for 2021-2027;
- points out that adequate funding of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will help to create new jobs, support growth and make the EU a world leader in the area of research and innovation and the decarbonisation of the economy;
- welcomes the efforts made to simplify the rules and procedures. No project proposer should be forced to give up the idea of submitting an application for funding;
- takes into account the fact that the UK's withdrawal from the EU will have a huge number of consequences, including a significant impact on integrating Ireland into the TEN-T core network corridors.