Belgium, (Brussels Morning) New rules for selecting which cross-border energy projects can benefit from EU funding and align the existing regulation with the European Green Deal were approved yesterday during a Parliament’s plenary session.
The new rules were approved by Parliament with 410 votes to 146, and 72 abstentions.
The new legislation 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.
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.
“Today’s tragic reality of war in Europe and the EU’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).
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 are also expected to drive market integration and increase the security of energy supply.
In order to contribute to the EU’s green goals, the selected projects will have to help EU countries move away from solid fossil fuels such as coal, lignite, peat and oil shale.
However, the Parliament 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.
Cyprus and Malta’s energy isolation
According to the new rules, 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.
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”, added Krasnodębski.