Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a key EU funding instrument that promotes growth, jobs, and competitiveness through targeted investments in infrastructure. Through funding, it supports the development of high performing, sustainable, and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy, and telecom services.

In addition to traditional grants, CEF also offers financial support to projects through innovative financial instruments such as guarantees and project bonds. These instruments aim to act as a catalyst to attract further funding from the private sector (e.g. equity and debt) and other public sector actors.

  • CEF Transport focusses on infrastructure development projects (“Studies” and “Works”) that have high added value for the EU. For example, projects on building missing cross-border links and removing bottlenecks along main trans-European transport corridors. The emphasis is on sustainability, effective interconnectivity across borders, effective interoperability (intelligent traffic management systems), and enhanced safety. For the period of 2014-2020, a total budget of EUR 24.05 billion is assigned to CEF Transport projects. More information on CEF Transport can be found here external link icon.
  • CEF Energy connects the so-called energy islands to ensure the security of supply and to support large scale deployment of energy from renewable sources. CEF contributes to eliminating uncertainties and obstacles around investments in the energy sector by supporting projects of common interest. For 2014-2020, the total budget for CEF Energy projects is EUR 5.35 billion. More information on CEF Energy can be found here external link icon.
  • CEF Telecom facilitates cross-border interaction between public administrations, businesses, and citizens, through deploying digital service infrastructures (DSIs) and broadband networks. For 2014-2020, the budget is EUR 1.05 billion for trans-European digital services. More information can be found here external link icon.

What is the relevance for Circular Cities?

CEF-programmes aim for sustainable investments in European infrastructure. This means that circular (city) initiatives could be relevant for CEF, in case that they are clearly aligned to the larger focus on transport, energy or telecom. Circular city sectors that are of most relevance for CEF are built environment and urban mobility. As stated in the POST-2020 box, the new CEF will focus more on integrating different sectors to help achieve climate objectives. This will further enhance the fit between CEF and circular city initiatives.

How to apply?

Search for open calls for projects on the European Commission’s website here external link icon.

POST-2020: Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

For the upcoming period 2021-2027, a new budget (EUR 42.3 billion) has been proposed for CEF by the European Commission. Compared to the first CEF, the new proposal seeks to speed up the decarbonisation and digitalisation of the EU economy by better integrating the transport, energy, and digital sectors, and to help achieve EU climate objectives. It should also support jobs, economic growth, and the deployment of new technologies. You can learn more about the proposed new CEF and its budget breakdown here external link icon.