How to boost rail investments with the support of the MFF and the recovery & resilience facility?
In December 2020, the European Union reached an agreement for an historic Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the 2021-2027 period. Together with the Recovery Package, all EU funding and financing instruments - such as the Recovery & Resilience Facility, CEF, Cohesion Policy Funds including the new Just Transition Fund and InvestEU - will be instrumental in making rail the backbone of Europe’s multimodal transport system, thereby helping Europe achieve its ambitious climate commitments and spur on economic recovery in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a panel composed of representatives from the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Portuguese Presidency, the Community of European Railways (CER) and Siemens Mobility, the discussion took stock of different opportunities available to articulate rail investments across the new EU funding architecture. These explored possibilities included relevant investment priorities such as ERTMS, zero-emissions rolling stock and completion of the TEN-T network. The panel also highlighted the positive contribution that rail can make to achieve the EU objectives enshrined in the Green Deal and the ambitious way forward established in the recently released Smart & Sustainable Mobility Strategy.
MEP Dominique Riquet, Co-Chair of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Sustainable & Long-term Investments, mentioned: “The EU can do more to leverage the important role of rail to achieve a modal shift. The revision of the TEN-T guidelines should put the focus on the missing links and the funding needed in order to complete the Core Network by 2030.”
Herald Ruijters, Director for Investment, Innovative and Sustainable Transport, DG MOVE, stated: “The ambitious targets of the EU Sustainable Smart Mobility Strategy put rail at the centre of it. Cross border projects will be vital in this sense. Funding for rail under CEF 2 will be reinforced due to the huge sustainable potential offered by rail.”
Peter Berkowitz, Head of Unit, Smart and Sustainable Growth, DG REGIO, declared: “Rail investments is not only about transport, it is essential for cohesion and sustainability. The new Cohesion Policy makes rail-related investments more accessible including for urban transport in order to accelerate the shift to sustainable and smart mobility”.
Frederico Francisco, Advisor to the Minister for Infrastructure and Housing, Portuguese Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing, stated: “Rail is a central priority for the Portuguese Presidency. If we want to achieve the sustainability goals, a huge increase on public investments on the rail network should be made available taking into account the reality of periphery countries”.
Matteo Mussini, Senior Advisor, Strategy and Process Management CER “60% of EU funding resources under the MFF is accessible for rail investments from either a green or a digital perspective. However, we need to get the fundamentals right regarding the methodology for climate tracking expenditure”.
Mark-Robert Sontag, Executive Director Mobility Finance at Siemens Mobility GmbH, said: “Rail is already the most carbon-efficient means of transport and supports the decarbonization and digitalization objectives within the EU. We, therefore, urge key investments to be in the areas of rail infrastructure, energy-efficient rolling stock and ERTMS”.
Philippe Citroën, Director General of UNIFE, mentioned: “It’s clear that the importance of investing EU funds in rail projects will not only contribute to post Covid economic recovery but also to a greener and more digital EU future. If we want the EU to achieve its ambitious targets we need to make our transport system more sustainable with rail at its backbone. The EU can count on the rail stakeholder community to deliver on these plans”.