The legislation, agreed upon with Council in December 2021, sets criteria and the methodology for choosing energy projects of common interest (PCIs), such as high-voltage transmission lines, pipelines, energy storage facilities and smart grids, which would benefit from fast-track administrative procedures and be eligible to receive EU funds.
Boost hydrogen, phase out natural gas
During negotiations, MEPs supported the inclusion of the funding of projects related to the development of hydrogen infrastructure and carbon capture and storage. Eligible projects should also drive market integration and increase the security of energy supply.
The selected projects will have to help EU countries move away from solid fossil fuels such as coal, lignite, peat and oil shale. MEPs secured funding for projects that repurpose existing natural gas infrastructure for hydrogen transport or storage during a transitional period. Projects of this nature will be eligible to receive EU financial assistance until 31 December 2027.
Ending Cyprus and Malta’s energy isolation
New projects based on natural gas will no longer be eligible for EU funding. However, a temporary derogation will allow Cyprus and Malta to have one hydrogen-ready gas project each, funded with a view of connecting them to the EU network and operating under strict conditions.
“Today’s tragic reality of war in Europe and the European Union’s dramatically low level of energy security proves that, for years, the EU has made serious mistakes in assessing its needs, including in terms of trans-European energy infrastructure”, said lead MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski (ECR, PL).
With the new legislation, “we are not only improving the infrastructure planning process, but also pushing for new types of projects of common interest, in line with the climate objectives. The revised TEN-E framework will encourage investments in hydrogen and CO2 networks, as well as offshore grid development”, he added.
The text was approved by Parliament with 410 votes to 146, and 72 abstentions. It will now have to be formally adopted by Council before publication in the Official Journal and subsequent entry into force.
In its resolution of 10 July 2020, Parliament called for a revision of the trans-European networks in energy (TEN-E) regulation, which sets out EU guidelines for cross-border energy infrastructure and outlines the process for selecting so-called projects of common interest (PCI). In December 2020, the Commission adopted a proposal to revise the TEN-E regulation.
PCIs are infrastructure projects considered essential for delivering on EU objectives in the energy field, including improved interconnection between national markets, greater competitiveness, security of supply and promotion of renewables.