EUROPE: The European Commission’s Innovation & Networks Executive Agency announced on September 11 that it had opened the bidding for €11·9bn of funding to improve European transport links under the revised TEN-T programme. Member state governments have until February 26 to submit proposals, with the selected projects to be announced in mid-2015.

Hailed as ‘the largest single amount of EU funding ever earmarked for transport infrastructure’, the money forms the first tranche of transport funding to be made available through the Connecting Europe Facility. This has seen the EU budget for transport tripled to €26bn for 2014-20, compared to €8bn in 2007-13. The selected projects must also be co-financed by the member states.

The funding is to be concentrated on the ‘most competitive projects’ along the nine core transport corridors which were adopted in the revision of the TEN-T programme last year. The core network is due be established by 2030, improving road and rail links to 94 ports and 38 airports, upgrading 15 000 km of railway for higher speeds and tackling 35 cross-border bottlenecks.

According to INEA, ‘taken together, the nine corrridors will form a core transport network and act as the economic life-blood of the Single Market. The funding will remove bottlenecks, revolutionise east-west connections and streamline cross border transport operations for businesses and citizens throughout the EU.’

Commission Vice President Siim Kallas said ‘transport is fundamental to an efficient European economy, so investing in transport connections to fuel the economic recovery is more important than ever. Areas of Europe without good transport connections are not going to grow or prosper. Member states need to seize this opportunity to bid for funding to be better connected and more competitive.’