The priorities of Ireland’s Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers were presented to the various committees in the European Parliament by Irish ministers last week. Leo Varadkar, Irish Minister for Transport addressed the Transport and Tourism Committee on Wednesday 21 June listing TEN-T and Connecting Europe Facility and the Clean Power for Transport Package as top priorities.
Minister Varadkar pointed out Ireland is not in a position to invest financially in transport to the same level as before however that simply meant that they need to target more precisely the limited resources that are available and invest where they will add the greatest value from a European perspective and to make it more attractive for the private sector to play a greater part in delivering key infrastructure investment.
He committed to advancing the Connecting Europe Facility as far as he could over the term of the Irish presidency. Mr Varadkar highlighted the vulnerability of the CEF and the pressures on the overall budget but he promised to do his utmost to put the best case forward for Transport – “TENT T has a 40 year perspective so it is vital we get this right”.
Mr Varadkar drew attention to the Clean Power for Transport Initiative (in which EEO are specifically referred to in the text) which will push for greater deployment of charging and fuelling infrastructure from renewable energy sources. The minister said there will be a particular focus on charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, an area where Ireland has pressed ahead over the years. He discussed how this directive had great implications for transport, energy and the environment and said he was eager to build consensus among his colleague Ministers in these sectors at Council. “This is where Europe can take a lead. My hope here is to open the debate at the Transport Council in June”.