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Source: Fotolia / kalafoto


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The trans-European transport network policy is based on the realization that efficient and well-connected infrastructure is of vital importance for competitiveness, growth, jobs and prosperity in the European Union. Article 170 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union emphasizes the importance of transport infrastructure policy, the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), as a precondition for achieving the internal market and for the freedom to provide services.

The TEN-T policy is determined to a large extent by the European Commission's Mobility and Transport Directorate-General (DG MOVE).

Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network defines general objectives and priorities as well as specific technical requirements for the TEN-T network. The Annexes contain maps of the networks (roads, railways, waterways) and lists of the core network nodes that belong to the TEN network – maritime and inland ports, airports and intermodal terminals.

The TEN-T network has a dual-layer structure, which comprises a comprehensive and a core network. The core network is due to be completed by 2030 and the comprehensive network by 2050. The core network consists of nine corridors, which reflect the major long-distance transport operations or routes. Six of these corridors run through Germany. They are multimodal and designed to improve in particular cross-border links within the Union. The comprehensive TEN network contains all modes of transport and infrastructure for shipping and aviation. The core TEN network is part of the comprehensive network and contains its strategically most relevant nodes and connections. The whole TEN waterway network is attributed to the core network.

According to the TEN Regulation, an EU Coordinator is to be assigned to each corridor. Furthermore, there are coordinators for the Motorways of the Sea and the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). Together with the Member States, they draw up work plans for the corridors and monitor their implementation.

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 defines the level to which certain measures/projects are eligible for funding. Non-cohesion states such as Germany can be funded with up to 50 per cent (for more details, see “TEN funding”).

TEN funding is only granted on application and only in response to a call for applications previously published by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) on behalf of the European Commission (“Call”). There is no legal entitlement to grants. Applications may be submitted by EU Member States or, with their approval, by public or private enterprises.

TEN funding

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Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 “Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)”

The CEF is a financial assistance regulation for all trans-European networks (transport, energy and broadband). It defines to what level and under what conditions a project is eligible for funding.
A distinction is made between grants and innovative financing instruments, which are mainly designed to improve the credit rating of private investors.

Compared with the last multiannual financial framework (2007-2013), the budget for transport infrastructure has been significantly increased. Now, 24.05 billion euros is available between 2014 and 2020, about 16 billion euros more than before. The overall funding for transport infrastructure in non-cohesion countries amounts to 12.8 billion euros. An additional 11.3 billion euros is only available for projects in recipient countries of the Cohesion Fund. The Commission itself estimates that the actual financial need for upgrading the TEN-T network will amount to 500 billion euros over the same period. 250 billion euros alone will be required for the removal of bottlenecks and the filling of gaps in the core network.

Besides the grant support, Article 14 of the CEF includes further financial instruments that are addressed to private investors, in particular. Furthermore, in 2014 and following an initiative by the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (ESFI) was established. Its objective is the mobilisation of private capital. For further information, please refer to the website of the European Investment Bank. You can find the text of the Regulation under “Further information”.

Main objectives of the TEN Regulation

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The TEN Regulation names general objectives of the trans-European transport network, which in turn the CEF mentions as a precondition for funding. Among other things, the following must be taken into account:

  • It has to be a project of common interest. This is the case when new infrastructure is created or when existing infrastructure is rehabilitated (replacement of capital assets) or upgraded (Article 7(1)).
  • The project must meet the minimum technical standards of the comprehensive or core network and it has to be economically viable.
  • The project must have European added value (Art. 3(d)) (value in addition to that created for the individual Member State).
  • In addition, a project of common interest must have at least two of the following four objectives (Art. 4):
  • strengthening the cohesion of the Union;
  • increasing efficiency (e.g. removal of bottlenecks, filling of gaps, cost-efficient use of innovative technical and operational strategies);
  • increasing sustainability (e.g. security of fuel supply, CO2 reduction);
  • providing benefits to infrastructure users.

Main objectives (funding priorities) of the CEF

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In addition to the above mentioned preconditions, the following funding priorities apply to the transport sector (CEF, Article 4(2)):

  • Removing bottlenecks, enhancing rail interoperability and improving cross-border sections.
  • Ensuring sustainable and efficient transport systems in the long run, introducing innovative low-carbon and energy-efficient transport technologies.
  • Optimising the integration of transport modes and enhancing the interoperability of transport services.

Annex I of the CEF lists projects on the core network which are to be given priority in funding:

  • “Horizontal Priorities”, i. e. innovative management and services, new technologies and innovation.
  • Individual projects on the nine core network corridors.
  • Other pre-identified sections on the core network.

The European Commission plans to focus up to 95 per cent of the funding on these core network projects and priorities.

Funding rates

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Article 10 names possible maximum levels of funding. An overview:

ProjectsFieldMaximum funding
StudiesAll modes of transport50 %
Railway projectsCross-border40 %
Removal of bottlenecks30 %
Others20 %
Waterway ProjectsCross-border40 %
Removal of bottlenecks40 %
Others20 %
Road ProjectsCross-border sections10 %
Rail and road links to ports and airports20 %
Development of ports, multimodal platforms and freight services20 %
Motorways of the Sea30 %
Measures to reduce rail freight noise20 %
Traffic management systems (rail/air/water/road)ERTMS50 %
SESAR (ground / vehicle)50 % / 20 %
RIS, VTMIS (shore / vehicle)50 % / 20 %
ITS20 %
Safe HGV parking areas on the core network20 %
New technologies and innovations20 %

Grant application

The Federal Government’s position

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The Federal Government supports an integrated European transport system with intermodal solutions. Modern transport infrastructure and modes of transport are an indispensable requirement for a dynamic economy, and efficient infrastructure is a clear locational advantage. Conversely, a neglected infrastructure will become a risk and a burden for growth and employment. The transport system must also meet environmental, economic and societal challenges and take into account our citizens' interests and environmental concerns. Mobility as a whole is to become more modern, more efficient, less noisy and more sustainable.

A single mode of transport alone will be unable to handle the forecast growth in traffic. Against this background, the aim of the Federal Government's transport policy is to safeguard the capacity and efficiency of all modes of transport and, by interlinking them in an optimum manner, to ensure that they can deploy their inherent strengths in the overall system.

The Federal Government has clearly defined its priorities for the years ahead in the new 2030 Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (FTIP) and the upgrading acts that entered into force in December 2016:

  • prioritising investments in replacements and renewals for all modes of transport;
  • prioritising the completion of ongoing projects in upgrading and new construction;
  • removal of bottlenecks on major transport routes and at vital nodes.

The FTIP contains more than 1,000 individual projects (49 % road, 42 % railways, 9 % waterways) with a total level of funding of about 270 billion euros. Here, the priorities of the Federal Government and the European Commission are almost identical: For instance, almost all major upgrading and new construction projects are on railways on core network corridors. Furthermore, the approach of the European Commission to focus investments (grants) on upgrading the corridors coincides with the FTIP’s priority on upgrading the busy nodes and major transport routes.

This is why the Federal Government supports the European Commission in developing and establishing the trans-European network.