Proposal for a COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks
/* COM/94/62 final - SYN 94/0065 */
OJ C 89, 26.3.1994, p. 8–12 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT)
DA DE EL EN ES FR IT NL PT
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Proposal for a Council Regulation (EC) laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks (94/C 89/06) COM(94) 62 final - 94/0065(SYN)
(Submitted by the Commission on 4 March 1994)
THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 129d (3) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,
In cooperation with the European Parliament,
Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee,
Having regard to the opinion of the Commission of the Regions,
Whereas under Article 3 of the Treaty the activities of the Community should include, in particular, encouragement for the establishment and development of trans-European networks;
Whereas Article 129b of the Treaty states that to help achieve the objectives referred to in Articles 7a and 130a of the Treaty the Community should contribute to the establishment and development of trans-European networks in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures;
Whereas Article 129c (1), third indent, provides that the Community may support the financial efforts of the Member States to establish trans-European networks;
Whereas general rules should be laid down for the Community financing of trans-European networks, thereby permitting implementation of this Article;
Whereas under Article 129c Community aid should be granted to projects of common interest financed by the Member States which are identified in the framework of the guidelines;
Whereas certain projects were given priority status by the Brussels European Council in December 1993 in the White Paper on growth, competitiveness and employment;
Whereas, pending adoption of all the guidelines referred to in Article 129c of the Treaty, it is necessary to be able to support priority projects of this kind, since they help to achieve the objectives of Article 129b of the Treaty;
Whereas Community aid may take the shape in particular of feasibility studies, loan guarantees or interest-rate subsidies; whereas these subsidies and guarantees take the form in particular of aid from the EIB, the other Community loan instruments and the EIF; whereas in exceptional cases investment projects may be co-financed;
Whereas loan guarantees will be granted by the European Investment Fund on a commercial basis or, where appropriate, by other financial organizations; whereas Community financial aid may cover all or part of the premiums paid by the beneficiaries of these guarantees;
Whereas the Commission must assess the financial arrangements of the projects with the help of data provided by the applicants and the respective analyses so as to ensure the financial viability of the projects;
Whereas Community action must take account of the potential economic viability of the projects, as evaluated with the help of cost/benefit analysis and other appropriate criteria;
Whereas, with an eye to profitability, a detailed evaluation should be undertaken before Community resources are committed so as to guarantee that the resources mobilized generate the desired socio-economic benefits;
Whereas Community financial support under Article 129c (1) of the Treaty must be compatible with Community policies, in particular as regards environmental protection, competition and the award of public contracts; whereas environmental protection includes an environmental impact assessment;
Whereas the Commission must ensure proper coordination of all Community activities affecting trans-European networks;
Whereas provision should be made for suitable methods of evaluation, follow-up and control of Community aid;
Whereas there should be suitable information and publicity regarding the activities financed,
HAS ADOPTED THIS REGULATION:
Definition and scope
This Regulation defines the conditions and procedures for granting Community aid to projects of common interest in the field of trans-European networks for transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructures under Article 129c of the Treaty, without prejudice to the specific rules and regulations laid down in Council Decision . . . (1)
1. The Community aid granted in accordance with this Regulation shall concern projects of common interest financed by the Member States and identified within the framework of the guidelines referred to in Article 129c of the Treaty.
2. Projects financed by organizations working within an administrative or legal framework which makes them similar to public organizations shall also be eligible.
3. Where the guidelines referred to in Article 129c, as proposed by the Commission, have not yet been adopted by the Council other infrastructure projects which contribute to the achievement of the objectives set out in Article 129b of the Treaty may be eligible.
4. Within the meaning of this Regulation the concept of 'project` shall include the technically and financially separate stages of projects which form a whole designed to fulfil an economic and technical function.
Forms of aid
Community aid may take one or several of the following forms:
(a) co-financing of feasibility studies, including preparatory studies, evaluation studies and other technical support measures;
(b) contribution to the premiums of loan guarantees;
(c) interest-rate subsidies;
(d) where by way of exception the forms of financial aid provided for above are inappropriate, co-financing of investment projects.
In compliance with Article 203 of the Treaty the budgetary authority shall, in accordance with the financial perspective apaplicable in the budgetary procedure, set the amount of appropriations for each year and for each area referred to in Article 1.
1. In general Community aid to feasibility studies shall be subject to a substantial contribution from the public authorities.
The preparatory studies and technical support measures, for a given project, undertaken at the initiative of the Commission, may be financed, where necessary, to 100 % of the total cost.
2. The maximum amount of interest-rate subsidy may not exceed 10 % of the total cost of the investment in net grant equivalent.
These subsidies shall apply in particular to projects in receipt of Community loans.
3. Community financial support may cover all or part of the loan guarantee premiums granted by the European Investment Fund or, where appropriate, by other, similar financial organizations.
4. Where, by way of exception, the aid takes the form of a direct subsidy within the meaning of Article 3 (1) (d) above, the Commission shall make the level of that subsidy such that it is sufficient to mobilize the requisite financial resources.
Common project selection criteria
1. The projects shall be of sufficient dimension to have a significant impact on the establishment and development of networks.
Community aid shall be granted on a priority basis to projects according to their degree of contribution:
(a) to the establishment of trans-European networks;
(b) to the harmonization of technical standards;
(c) to the interconnection and interoperability of national networks;
(d) to the improvement of access to networks;
(e) to the integration of the various networks;
(f) to the reliability and safety of the networks.
2. Projects shall also be selected as a function of:
(a) to the degree of their contribution
- to the smooth running of the internal market,
- to the economic and social cohesion of the Community, in particular in regard to the need to connect island, landlocked and peripheral regions to the central areas of the Community;
(b) their importance to the development of trade at European level;
(c) their contribution to increasing the competitiveness of the European economy;
(d) their compliance with environmental considerations;
(e) their consistency with Community regional planning.
3. Account shall also be taken of:
(a) their potential economic viability : extent of financial and socio-economic profitability, including direct or indirect effects on employment;
(b) their readiness;
(c) the soundness of the financial package;
(d) the need for Community financial aid;
(e) the promotion of participation of the private sector as part of a public/private partnership.
Selection criteria concerning transport
Without prejudice to the common criteria referred to in Article 6, Community financial aid in the transport sector shall be granted on a priority basis according to the contribution of the projects:
(a) to the establishment of networks on a multimodal and transnational basis, notably
- establishment of key links,
- elimination of physical and technical frontiers,
- intermodal interconnection,
- connection to island and landlocked areas and opening up of peripheral regions,
- better access to networks;
(b) to sustainable development, in particular of traffic at European level, notably
- transfrontier and long distance traffic, given its present and potential importance, within the Community and in neighbouring third countries,
- smooth flow of transit traffic in and to the Community.
Selection criteria concerning telecommunications
Without prejudice to the common criteria referred to in Article 6, Community financial aid in the telecommunications sector shall be granted on a priority basis to projects according to their contribution:
(a) to the establishment of trans-European networks, notably
- transfrontier interconnection between physical networks,
- interoperability of services;
(b) to the opening and extension of new markets, permitting network operators and the providers and users of services to benefit from economies of scale, integrated facilities and multimedia services.
Selection criteria concerning energy
Without prejudice to the common criteria referred to in Article 6, Community financial aid in the energy sector shall be granted on a priority basis to projects according to their contribution:
(a) to the connection of isolated electricity networks and the interconnection of Member States' electricity networks;
(b) to greater reliability and safety of electricity networks or to the supply of electricity;
(c) to the introduction of natural gas to areas without supply and to the connection of isolated natural gas networks;
(d) to increased transport capacity through natural gas supply, inlet and storage pipelines.
The projects financed under this Regulation shall comply with the provisions of the Treaties, with the acts adopted on the basis thereof and Community policies, including environmental protection, competition and the award of public contracts.
Submission of applications for financial aid
Applications for financial aid shall be submitted to the Commission through the intermediary of the Member State concerned, or by the body directly concerned with the agreement of the Member State.
Information required for the assessment and identification of applications
1. In addition to the information specified in Article 6, and, where appropriate, Articles 7, 8 and 9, each application for financial aid shall include the following information to identify the project and to enable the Commission to assess the application:
(a) the body responsible for carrying out the project;
(b) the type of assistance envisaged and a description of the project concerned;
(c) if the application relates to a feasibility study, the study's objective and purpose and the methods and techniques envisaged;
(d) if the application relates to a project:
- the results of the cost/benefit analysis, including the results of the financial viability analysis,
- where necessary, the position of the projects on the network concerned,
- a summary description of environmental impact, based on the assessments carried out in accordance with Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (2);
(e) a financial plan listing, in ecus, all the components of the financial package, including the financial aid requested from the Community and the aid already granted;
(f) a work schedule.
2. Applicants shall supply the Commission with any additional information it requires.
3. In order to facilitate implementation of a project, the Commission may hold a meeting of all the public and private operators and financial agencies involved in the project.
4. The Commission may seek any specialist advice it requires in order to assess the application, including the opinion of the EIB.
Taking the decision
The Commission shall decide to grant financial aid under this Regulation according to its assessment of the applications in accordance with the selection criteria and the procedure specified in Article 19 (2). It shall notify its decision directly to the beneficiaries and to the Member States concerned.
1. Aid may be granted in respect of project-related expenditure incurred by the beneficiaries or by third parties responsible for implementation of the project.
2. Aid may not be granted in respect of expenditure incurred before the date on which the Commission received the application for financial aid.
3. Commitments and payments shall be expressed and paid in ecus.
4. As a general rule, payments shall be made in the form of advances and a final payment. The first advance shall be paid once the application for aid has been approved. Subsequent payments shall be made on the basis of requests for payment, taking account of the progress made in implementing the project.
5. The Commission shall make the final payment after approval of the report on the project or study submitted by the beneficiary and itemizing all the expenditure actually incurred.
6. With regard to interest-rate subsidies and guarantee premium subsidies, the Commission shall determine the procedures and timetable for payments.
1. Member States shall take the necessary steps to check the projects financed, to prevent fraud and to initiate legal proceedings to recover any money lost through fraud. They shall keep the Commission informed of any such measures taken.
2. Without prejudice to any control measures carried out by the Member States in accordance with national laws, regulations and administrative provisions and without prejudice to the provisions of Article 188a of the Treaty and control measures carried out in accordance with Article 209 (c) of the Treaty, Commission officials or staff may carry out spot checks on projects financed.
3. Where implementation of a project appears not to justify either part or all of the financial aid allocated, the Commission shall investigate the case thoroughly and ask the Member State or other bodies concerned to submit their comments within a given period of time.
4. Following this investigation, as referred to in paragraph 3, the Commission may reduce or suspend financial aid for the project concerned if it decides that fraud has been committed or that one of the conditions specified in the decision granting the financial aid has not been met, or if there have been substantial changes affecting the nature or implementing conditions of the project for which the Commission's approval was not sought.
1. The Commission shall be responsible for coordination between the projects undertaken under this Regulation and projects undertaken with the help of contributions from the Community budget, the European Investment Bank and other Community financial instruments, and for ensuring that they are compatible.
2. The Commission and the Member States shall ensure that the combination of subsidies (including interest-rate subsidies) and loans (including guarantees) from the Community is the most effective way of guaranteeing the financial viability of projects.
1. In order to ensure that Community aid is used efficiently, the Commission and the Member States concerned shall systematically evaluate progress with projects, if necessary with the cooperation of the European Investment Bank. To this end, Member States shall inform the Commission each year on the progress of projects approved.
2. Before the end of 1997, the Commission shall verify the results achieved with Community assistance in the different fields of application in terms of the original objectives.
This will entail defining appropriate indicators as a means of measuring the extent to which the original objectives have been achieved.
Information and publicity
1. Every two years the Commission shall submit a report on the activities carried out under this Regulation to Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and to the Committee of Regions for their appraisal.
2. Beneficiaries shall ensure that suitable publicity is given to assistance granted under this Regulation in order to inform the public of the role played by the Community in the implementation of the projects. They shall consult the Commission on how this should be done.
1. In implementing this Regulation, the Commission shall be assisted, depending on the sector concerned, by:
- the Infrastructure Committee set up by Council Decision 78/174/EEC (3),
- the Energy Committee set up by Council Decision . . . of . . . (4),
- the Telecommunications Committee set up by Council Decision . . . of . . . (5).
The decisions required by this Regulation shall be taken in accordance with the procedure set out in paragraph 2 of this Article.
2. The Commission representative shall submit a draft of the Decision to be taken to the Committee. The Committee shall deliver its opinion on the draft within a time limit specified by the chairman depending on the urgency of the matter concerned. The opinion shall be adopted by qualified majority as specified in Article 148 (2) of the Treaty for the adoption of Commission Decisions. When votes are taken in the Committee, the votes of the representatives of the Member States shall be weighted as defined in that Article. The chairman shall not vote.
The Commission shall adopt the measures which shall become immediately applicable. However, where they do not correspond with the opinion delivered by the Committee, these Decisions shall be notified by the Commission to the Council immediately.
In this case, the Commission may postpone application of the measures it has decided upon by a maximum of one month as of the date of notification.
The Council may, acting by qualified majority, take a different decision within the period specified in the previous subparagraph.
Entry into force
This Regulation shall enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.
(1) Proposal for a Council Decision on a series of guidelines for trans-European data communications networks between administrations (IDA) - COM(93) 69 final, OJ No C 105, 16. 4. 1993, p. 10.
(2) OJ No L 175, 5. 7. 1985, p. 40.
(3) OJ No L 54, 25. 2. 1978, p. 16.
(4) Proposal for a Council Decision on Community guidelines on trans-European energy networks and proposal for a Decision on a series of measures - COM(93) 685 of 19. 1. 1994.
(5) Proposal for a Council Decision on a series of guidelines for the development of ISDN as a trans-European network - COM(93) 347 (OJ No C 259, 23. 9. 1993, p. 4).