MEPs want €10bn allocated for cleaner and safer transport in EU budget

MEPs have given a thumbs-up to spending €10 billion of the EU’s transport infrastructure budget on smart, sustainable and safe transport projects like re-charging stations and railway signaling upgrades. T&E said that guaranteeing this funding for the period 2021-2027 – as part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) – is crucial if Europe is to meet its climate targets.

The parliament also voted for the EU to offer up to 90% of the costs of so-called ‘synergy projects’, which connect the transport, energy, and digital sectors. This would enable projects like smart grids and vehicle-to-grid charging to benefit from EU financing. There is also an earmark for 60% of CEF for climate projects across all sectors – energy, digital and transport. All CEF funding is topped up by member states.

T&E’s freight policy officer, Sam Kenny, said: ‘This vote helps ensure that the EU budget will aid the decarbonisation of transport and helps member states to meet their climate targets. It should inspire governments to follow suit and ramp up investment in sustainable transport.’

However, MEPs did vote to put gas infrastructure on an equal footing as clean transport projects when accounting for the contribution to climate targets of transport spending. This is despite gas vehicles having no meaningful air quality or climate benefits compared to conventional vehicles. The parliament also voted to make airports eligible for funding, which would aid the expansion of the highest-emitting mode of transport.

T&E said it is imperative that MEPs, governments and the European Commission reach agreement on a CEF that invests in clean transport before parliament breaks for elections next year.

Earlier this month EU transport and energy ministers backed earmarking €7 billion of the EU’s transport infrastructure budget for more sustainable projects – with gas projects being eligible. The Commission supports guaranteeing €10 billion for such infrastructure. Neither the Council nor the Commission want airports to be eligible.

Sam Kenny added: ‘Negotiations will begin soon and the three institutions are set to support earmarking investment for smarter and cleaner transport. It’s important though that the EU divests entirely from natural gas projects if it truly wants to help technologies that can get us to zero emissions.’