Member States water down Commission’s proposal on alternative fuels infrastructure

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At the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) of 5th December 2013, Member States’ Transport Ministers agreed on a General Approach as regards the Commission’s Directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure.

The agreement reached is reportedly considerably less ambitious than the Commission’s proposal. Although EU Member States fully support the goals of the Commission, they have watered down the draft Directive by opting for a 2030 deadline instead of 2020 as initially proposed. This move was supported by the majority of Member States, particularly those that recently joined the EU.

The EU 28 have also removed any binding elements as regards national infrastructure targets. Transport Ministers have decided to make these targets voluntary by granting Member States full flexibility, thus giving them enough time to carry out a comprehensive analysis of their situation and establish accurate numbers.

As far as LNG is concerned, the agreement foresees that member States must set targets for liquefied natural gas (LNG) filling stations at maritime ports. They must also do so for shore-side electricity supply, provided there is demand and the costs do not outweigh the benefits.

This General Approach shall be the basis of the negotiations between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. It is worth noting that in a vote that took place on 26th November 2013, MEPs supported the Commission’s binding approach and upheld the 2020 deadline.

The TTE Council also adopted new guidelines defining a long-term strategy for the development of a complete trans-European transport network (TEN-T), consisting of infrastructure for railways, maritime and air transport, roads and inland waterways. The new regulation introduces in particular a new double-layer structure distinguishing between a core network to be put into place by 2030 and a comprehensive network to be completed later on. Furthermore, the TTE Council adopted the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the future funding instrument for the trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy and telecommunications.

Finally, with regard to Blue Belt, the Commission provided information on recent developments with regard to the Blue Belt initiative intended to facilitate shipping in terms of customs procedures.