The Commission adopted on October 19, 2011 a proposal to transform the existing patchwork of European roads, railways, airports and canals into a unified transport network (TEN-T). The new core network will remove bottlenecks, upgrade infrastructure and streamline cross border transport operations for passengers and businesses throughout the EU. It will improve connections between different modes of transport and contribute to the EU’s climate change objectives. Art 10 on “Priorities” of the proposed new TEN T Guidelines  states that “the Union, Member States, infrastructure managers and other project promoters, when developing the comprehensive network, shall give particular consideration to measures that are necessary for ensuring fuel security by allowing the use of alternative and in particular low or zero carbon energy sources and propulsion systems.


European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “Transport is fundamental to an efficient EU economy, but vital connections are currently missing. Europe’s railways have to use 7 different gauge sizes and only 20 of our major airports and 35 of our major ports are directly connected to the rail network. Without good connections Europe will not grow or prosper.”

The new policy follows a two-year consultation process and establishes a core transport network to be established by 2030 to act as the backbone for transportation within the Single Market. The financing proposals published today (for the period 2014–2020) also tightly focus EU transport funding on this core transport network, filling in cross-border missing links, removing bottlenecks and making the network smarter.

The new core TEN-T network will be supported by a comprehensive network of routes, feeding into the core network at regional and national level. This will largely be financed by Member States, with some EU transport and regional funding possibilities, including with new innovative financing instruments. The aim is to ensure that progressively, and by 2050, the great majority of Europe’s citizens and businesses will be no more than 30 minutes’ travel time from this comprehensive network.

Taken as a whole, the new transport network will deliver:

  • safer and less congested travel
  • as well as smoother and quicker journeys.

The 31.7 billion euros allocated to transport under the Connecting Europe Facility of the MFF (Multi-Annual Financial Framework) will effectively act as “seed capital” to stimulate further investment by Member States to complete difficult cross-border connections and links which might not otherwise get built. Every 1 million euros spent at European level will generate 5 million from Member State governments and 20 million from the private sector.


The new policy sets out a much smaller and more tightly defined transport network for Europe. Its aim is to focus spending on a smaller number of projects where real EU added value can be realised. Member States will also face more rigorous requirements in terms of common specifications which will work cross-border, and legal obligations actually to complete the project.

The TEN-T network consists of two layers: a core network to be completed by 2030 and a comprehensive network feeding into this, to be completed by 2050. The comprehensive network, will ensure full coverage of the EU and accessibility of all regions. The core network will prioritize the most important links and nodes of the TEN-T, to be fully functional until 2030. Both layers include all transport modes: road, rail, air, inland waterways and maritime transport, as well as intermodal platforms.

The TEN-T guidelines set common requirements for the TEN-T infrastructure – with tougher requirements for the core network. This will ensure fluent transport operations throughout the network. The policy also fosters the implementation of traffic management systems which will allow optimising the use of infrastructure and by increasing efficiency, to reduce CO2 emissions.

The implementation of the core network will be facilitated using a corridor approach. Ten corridors will provide the basis for the co-ordinated development of infrastructure within the core network. Covering at least 3 modes, 3 Member States and 2 cross-border sections, these corridors will bring together the Member States concerned, as well as the relevant stakeholders, for example infrastructure managers and users. European co-ordinators will chair “corridor platforms” that will bring together all the stakeholders – these will be a major instrument to guarantee co-ordination, co-operation and transparency.

See for core network maps, national maps, projects lists.

Key facts and figures – Frequently Asked Questions

  • Transport is fundamental to an efficient European economy.
  • Freight transport is expected to grow by 80% by 2050. And passenger transport by more than 50%.
  • Growth needs trade. And trade needs transport. Areas of Europe without good connections are not going to prosper.

The new core network – the figures

The core network will connect:

  • 83 main European ports with rail and road links
  • 37 key airports with rail connections into major cities
  • 15,000 km of railway line upgraded to high speed
  • 35 cross border projects to reduce bottlenecks

This will be the economic lifeblood of the single market. Allowing a real free flow of goods and people around the Union.

The new core network – the funding:

It is estimated that the cost of implementing the first financing phase for the core network for 2014–2020 (see attached list of projects) will cost 250 billion. The core network is to be completed by 2030.

The Connecting Europe Facility makes available for transport infrastructure 31.7 billion euros for the next financial period 2012–2020. 80% of this money will be used to support:

  • Core network projects priority projects along the 10 implementing corridors on the core network. Funding will also be available for a limited number of other sections projects of high European added value on the core network.
  • Funding for horizontal projects – these are IT related – such as funding for SESAR (the technological dimension of the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management System), or ERTMS the European Rail Traffic Management System which must be used throughout the major transport corridors. This is a particular priority – as another innovation on the new core network is that there are tougher obligations for transport systems to “join up”, i.e. to invest in meeting mainly existing EU standards, for example on common rail signalling systems.

The remaining funding can be made available for ad hoc projects, including for projects on the comprehensive network.

How do I see which transport projects will be funded for my country?

The basic principle is that that every country benefits from access to a strong core European transport network – allowing for the free flow of people and goods. All European countries will be connected to this network.

The list of projects that have been identified as a priority for EU funding for the next financing period (2014–2020) are set out in the annex to the Connecting Europe Regulation – see annex attach to this MEMO.

These projects are eligible for EU transport funding for 2014–2020 because:

  • they meet the criteria set out in the methodology to be on the core network (see below for more information on the methodology and criteria)
  • they have high EU value added
  • and are mature for implementation between 2014 and 2020

It will be up to the Member States to submit detailed proposals to the Commission and on that basis funding will allocated. This should happen as of early 2014. The precise level of EU funding available also depends on the details for the national proposals. Overall, the EU contribution to a major transport infrastructure development will normally be around 20% of the investment costs for any 7-year budget period. Support for individual studies can be up to 50 % and for studies and construction work in the case of cross-border projects up to 40%. The rest is from Member States, regional authorities or possibly private investors.

What if I am not on the core network? What is the comprehensive network? Who funds it and how does it work?

At a regional and national level what we call the comprehensive network will feed into the core network. This comprehensive network is an integral part of TEN-T policy. This will be largely managed by the Member States themselves with some funding available under transport and of course under regional policy. That is subsidiarity in action. It is our intention that progressively, and by 2050, the great majority of Europe’s citizens and businesses will be no more than 30 minutes in travel time from this feeder network.

The new TEN-T guidelines go much further than before in terms of specifying requirements, also including the comprehensive network, so that over time – looking ahead to 2050 – large parts of the comprehensive network join up in terms of fully interoperable and efficient standards, for rail, electric cars, etc.

What are the tougher requirements for the core network?

There are two important sets of requirements for projects receiving funding on the core network: (a) technical requirements which need to be applied; and (b) new legal requirements to finish projects.

The technical requirements:

It make sense that in particular for a core network, technical requirements must be interoperable across the network. For example, that means that ERTMS (the European Rail Traffic Management System) – the basic ITS systems to control the trains must apply everywhere. Equally, road safety standards in terms of tunnel safety requirements and road safety requirements must apply across the network, and the technology for ITS (intelligent transport systems) must join up. Also if there are future electric vehicle infrastructure charging points to be built, logically, they must meet common standards, so the cars can use them all across the network.

The legal requirements:

There is a new tough legal requirement introduced in the TEN-T guidelines so that Member States with projects receiving funding on the core network, have a legal obligation to finish those projects. That is an obligation to finish by 2030 – completion date for the core network. However this legal requirement should provide a clear incentive for Member States to keep transport projects on track.

How will we get to the 250 billion euros needed for the core network?

The 31.7 billion euros allocated to transport under the Connecting Europe Facility of the MFF (Multi Annual Financial Framework) will effectively act as “seed capital” to stimulate further investment by Member State to complete the difficult cross border connections and links, which might not otherwise get built.

There is a very strong leverage effect from TEN-T funding. Experience in recent years shows that every 1 million euros spent at European level will generate 5 million from Member State governments and 20 million from the private sector.

Added to this leveraged money is now the possibility of new private sector money coming in though innovative financing instruments like project bonds.

How does the co-financing work? How much money comes from Member States and how much from Europe.

Transport infrastructure requires a huge investment – and the large share will always come from Member States. Europe’s role in terms of investment and co-ordination is to add value by removing difficult bottlenecks and building missing links and connections, and to support the creation of a real European transport network.

The normal co-financing rates for TEN-T projects on the core network will be:

  • Up to 50% EU co-financing for studies.
  • For works up to 20% (for example exploratory works for a major tunnel)
  • There are certain possibilities to increase co-financing for cross-border projects for rail and inland waterway connections (up to 40%).
  • For certain ITS projects, like ERTMS, higher co-financing of up to 50% can be made available to support Member States making the transition.

How were the projects chosen to be on the core network?

The priority was to re-focus EU transport funding to create a genuine European network – not to just tackle bottlenecks in a more scattered way – but to really have a network.

To do that, a new methodology was drafted on the basis of extensive consultations with Member States and stakeholders. The aim was create a European network, linking the major social and economic centre and gateways to third countries (ports, airports and land connections) and to put in place the keep infrastructure necessary to underpin the Single Market, support competitiveness and economic development.

The methodology is based on several steps. First, the selection of major nodes – meeting certain statistical criteria, eg capital cities and other important social economic centres, major ports (volume and territorial criteria) as well as major airports (volume and territorial criteria) and gateways to third countries. Second, the process of linking up these nodes with land transport modes – rail inland waterway and road (some of which already exists – some where there are bottlenecks and some where there are missing links.) Third, incorporating a detailed analysis of major traffic flows – passenger and freight. This is essential to define priority sections for the core network and to see clearly piority sections where infrastructure needs upgrading, building, or where bottlenecks need to be removed.

On this basis a strategic core network was defined, linking strategically important nodes, multi modals routes and well as taking into account major traffic flows.

All projects on the core network are a priority for EU co-financing. However, for the financing period 2014–2020) a particular importance is given to funding cross border projects which have the highest EU added value.

What exactly are corridors and why do we need corridors ?

Past experience has shown that it is very difficult to implement cross border and other transport projects in different member states in a co-ordinated way. It is very easy, in fact, to create divergent systems and connections and create more bottleneck.

A major innovation on the new TEN-T guidelines for is the introduction of 10 implementing corridors on the core network. They are there to help implement the development of the core network. Each corridor must include three modes, three Member States and 2 cross-border sections.

“Corridor platforms” will be created to bring all relevant stakeholders and Member States together. The corridor platform is a governance structure that will devise and implement “corridor development plans” so that work along the corridor, in different Member States and at different stages of progress can be joined effectively. European co-ordinators will chair the corridor platforms for the 10 key corridors on the core network.

How does the new TEN-T meet green objectives?

TEN-T is an essential tool for transport policy to meet the overall target to reduce by 60% emissions from transport by 2050 (see “Transport 2050” white paper published earlier this year). At its heart the TEN-T network is a multi-modal transport network, facilitating a substantial the shift of passengers and freight from road to rail and other transport modes. All TEN-T projects have to undergo a rigorous environmental impact before qualifying for EU money. To do this they must meet all the requirements, in terms of planning and sustainability set out under EU environmental legislation.

Background TEN-T Policy: The Trans-European Networks Policy is there to put in place the transport infrastructure and interconnections that underpin the Single Market, to ensure the free-flow of goods and people and to support growth, jobs and EU competitiveness. In the past, transport systems in Europe developed largely along national lines. This led to poor or absent transport interconnections at the borders, or along key corridors. Weak transport interconnections hamper economic growth. Since the 1980s, TEN-T policy has focused EU money on supporting the development of key European infrastructure projects. And there have been many important success stories. However, given in particular the tough financial period, there is a need to refocus EU transport spending to where it gives maximum added value – to create a strong core European network.

Source: EU Connecting Europe PR