The structural funds – mainly the Cohesion and Regional Development Funds – are aimed at helping the EU’s poorest countries plus certain regions. About 24% of the Cohesion/Regional money is spent on transport, and more than 90% of the EU money spent on transport schemes in the EU comes from these funds.
An important concern of T&E was that the current structural funds discourages the use of the user-pays principle, and indirectly rail, by obliging member states to subtract revenues gained from tolls or track access charges from the contribution requested from Brussels. As rail charges are mandatory while road charges are optional, this means that by default the EU co-financing rate for rail is lower than for road. The new proposals only partially address this concern.
T&E had also proposed basing the level of EU contributions to transport projects on the climate performance of projects: the cleaner the project the higher the co-financing rate. The Commission’s proposal makes no mention of this, but the CEF proposal cautiously leaves the door open for such an approach – it says transport projects with, among others, a good climate performance could benefit from a 10% higher co-financing rate.
More on the Commission’s proposal at http://goo.gl/61qoj