TEN-E: Council and Parliament reach provisional agreement on new rules for cross-border energy projects

EU ambassadors today endorsed a provisional political agreement on the revision of the Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) Regulation, reached between the Council presidency and the European Parliament’s negotiators on 15 December. The new rules for TEN-E will support the EU’s climate objectives and the Green Deal. The agreement will now be formally adopted by both institutions.

The agreement reached makes sure that in the future, no new fossil fuel projects will receive funding from the Connecting Europe Facility. This deal ensures we will invest in a green and climate-neutral future that guarantees efficiency, competitiveness and security of supply, while leaving no one behind.

Jernej Vrtovec, Slovenian Minister of Infrastructure

The Council’s and Parliament’s negotiators agreed among other things to:

  • end support for new natural gas and oil projects and introduce mandatory sustainability criteria for all projects
  • simplify and accelerate permitting and authorisation procedures, notably by creating a unique point of contact per project for permitting and authorisation
  • allow during a transitional period until 31 December 2029, for dedicated hydrogen assets converted from natural gas to be used to transport or store a pre-defined blend of hydrogen with natural gas or biomethane. Eligibility for EU financial assistance for such projects will end on 31 December 2027
  • allow for projects no longer on the list of projects of common interest, but for which an application file has been accepted for examination by the competent authority, to maintain their rights and obligations in terms of faster permitting
  • in the case of Cyprus and Malta, that are still not interconnected to the trans-European gas network, allow for one interconnection per Member State under development or planning that has been granted the Project of Common Interest status and is necessary to secure permanent interconnection of Cyprus and Malta to the trans-European gas network
  • add an explicit reference to article 136 of the EU financial regulation that enumerates the situations where a person or entity shall be excluded from being selected for receiving EU financing, such as fraud, corruption or conduct related to criminal organisations
  • include in the scope of the Regulation certain types of electrolysers that account for at least 50 MW capacity, provided by a single electrolyser or by a set of electrolysers that form a single, coordinated project and that contribute to sustainability. Electrolysers will not be eligible for financing
  • emphasise the role of energy from renewable sources regarding all assets, including smart gas grids
  • create a possibility for non-binding cooperation in the field of offshore grid planning
  • strengthen the governance process for TEN-E with a stronger role for relevant stakeholders
  • include in the scope of the Regulation projects of mutual interest, where they are sustainable and demonstrate benefits at EU-level

The revised Regulation will continue to ensure that new projects respond to market integration, competitiveness and security of supply objectives. It will continue to support projects that connect regions currently isolated from European energy markets, that strengthen existing cross-border interconnections and that promote cooperation with countries outside of the EU.

Background and next steps

The European Commission presented its proposal on a revised TEN-E on 15 December 2020. The revision of the TEN-E Regulation identifies 11 priority corridors and 3 priority thematic areas to develop and interconnect. It updates the infrastructure categories eligible for support with an emphasis on decarbonisation and adds a new focus on offshore electricity grids, hydrogen infrastructure and smart grids. This will be done mostly through projects of common interest (PCIs) that are eligible for financing from the Connecting Europe Facility for 2021-2027. The list of PCIs is adopted by the Commission in the form of a delegated regulation based on an assessment by so-called Regional Groups. PCIs benefit from a number of advantages but there is no guarantee of EU financing for projects on the PCI list.

The Council reached a general approach on TEN-E on 11 June 2021. The Council presidency and the European Parliament negotiators found a provisional political agreement in trilogue negotiations on 15 December 2021. The new regulation will now be formally adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.