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Document 52004AG0023

Common Position (EC) No 23/2004 of 24 February 2004 adopted by the Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, with a view to adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks

OJ C 95E , 20.4.2004, p. 27–30 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

52004AG0023

Common Position (EC) No 23/2004 of 24 February 2004 adopted by the Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, with a view to adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks

Official Journal C 095 E , 20/04/2004 P. 0027 - 0030


Common position (EC) No 23/2004

adopted by the Council on 24 February 2004

with a view to adopting Regulation (EC) No .../2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of ... amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks

(2004/C 95 E/04)

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular the first paragraph of Article 156 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission(1),

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(2),

After consulting the Committee of the Regions,

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty(3),

Whereas:

(1) The high-level group on the trans-European transport network chaired by Mr Karel Van Miert expressed concern that the delays in the cross-border sections of the priority projects on the trans-European transport network (TEN) were having an adverse effect on the profitability of the investments made by the Member States in the sections in their own country, denying them the benefit of economies of scale, and recommended that the rate of Community financing should be differentiated, according to the benefits to other countries, in particular the neighbouring countries, stressing that such modulation should in the first instance benefit the cross-border projects used by long-distance transport services. Moreover, the Community financing rate should be differentiated according to the extent to which the project's economic benefits exceed its financial profitability.

(2) To this end the high-level group recommended a higher rate of Community aid to promote completion of the cross-border connections for the priority projects and added that the budgetary impact of such a change would be limited. This should be implemented bearing in mind the need to focus TEN resources on key projects, while recognising the need for continued financial support for non-priority projects.

(3) The possibility should be given to meet the budgetary commitments by means of annual instalments, while basing them on a global and multiannual legal commitment.

(4) A temporary increase in the rate of Community aid may provide an incentive for actors to speed up and to render effective the implementation of priority projects covered by this Regulation.

(5) The establishment of public-private partnerships (or of other forms of cooperation between the public and private sectors) demands a firm financial commitment from institutional investors which is sufficiently attractive to raise private capital. Granting Community financial aid on a multiannual basis would remove the uncertainties which are slowing down project development. Measures should therefore be taken to grant financial support to the projects selected on the basis of a multiannual legal commitment.

(6) Cross-border connections between energy networks are important for ensuring smooth operation of the internal market, security of supply and optimum use of energy infrastructure. Priority projects on the energy networks, which are necessary in the interests of the European economy but unprofitable in business terms and which do not distort competition between enterprises, should therefore also qualify for higher financial aid. This aid is in respect of priority projects on the energy networks.

(7) Council Regulation (EC) No 2236/95(4) should be adapted to take account of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(5).

(8) Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 should therefore be amended accordingly,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS REGULATION:

Article 1

Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 is hereby amended as follows:

1. Article 5 is amended as follows:

(a) paragraph 3 is replaced by the following:

"3. Regardless of the form of intervention chosen, the total amount of Community aid pursuant to this Regulation shall not exceed 10 % of the total investment cost. However, the total amount of Community aid may exceptionally reach 20 % of the total investment cost in the following cases:

(a) Projects concerning satellite positioning and navigation systems, as provided for in Article 17 of Decision No 1692/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 1996 on Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network(6);

(b) Priority projects on the energy networks;

(c) Sections of the projects of European interest, provided that the projects are started before 2010, identified in Annex III to Decision No 692/96/EC with the aim of eliminating bottlenecks and/or filling in missing sections, if such sections are cross-border or cross-natural-barrier, and contribute to the integration of the internal market in an enlarged Community, promote safety, ensure the interoperability of the national networks and/or strongly contribute to the reduction of imbalances between modes of transport, in favour of the most environment-friendly modes. This rate shall be differentiated according to the benefits to other countries, in particular neighbouring Member States.";

(b) the following paragraph is added:

"5. In the case of the projects referred to in paragraph 3, within the limits of this Regulation, the legal commitment shall be multiannual and the budgetary commitments shall be met in annual instalments."

2. In Article 13, the following paragraph is added:

"4. If, 10 years after the financial aid was awarded, the operation in question has not been completed, the Commission may demand reimbursement of the aid paid, with due regard to the principle of proportionality, taking into account all relevant factors."

3. Article 17 is replaced by the following:

"Article 17

Committee procedure

1. The Commission shall be responsible for the implementation of this Regulation.

2. The Commission shall be assisted by a committee. The European Investment Bank shall appoint a representative to the committee who shall not vote.

3. Where reference is made to this Article, Articles 5 and 7 of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(7) shall apply, having regard to the provisions of Article 8 thereof.

The period laid down in Article 5(6) of Decision 1999/468/EC shall be set at three months.

4. The committee shall adopt its Rules of Procedure."

4. In Article 18, the following paragraph is added:"The allocation of funds shall be linked to the qualitative and quantitative level of implementation."

Article 2

This Regulation shall enter into force on the 20th day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

Done at ...

For the European Parliament

The President

For the Council

The President

(1) OJ C 75 E, 26.3.2002, p. 316 and OJ C 151 E, 25.6.2002, p. 291.

(2) OJ C 125, 27.5.2002, p. 13.

(3) Opinion of the European Parliament of 2 July 2002 (OJ C 271 E, 12.11.2003, p. 163), Council common position of 24 February 2004 and position of the European Parliament of ... (not yet published in the Official Journal).

(4) OJ L 228, 23.9.1995, p. 1. Regulation as amended by Regulation (EC) No 1655/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 197, 29.7.1999, p. 1).

(5) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.

(6) OJ L 228, 9.9.1996, p. 1. Decision as amended by Decision No 1346/2001/EC (OJ L 185, 6.7.2001, p. 1).

(7) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.

STATEMENT OF THE COUNCIL'S REASONS

I. INTRODUCTION

1. On 4 December 2001, the Commission submitted a proposal to the European Parliament and to Council in order to increase the Community aid for certain TEN transport priority projects to 20 % maximum.

2. On 14 March 2002 the Commission amended its proposal by extending it to TEN priority energy projects.

3. On 20 March 2002, the Economic and Social Committee adopted its opinion approving the proposal.

4. On 25 March 2002, the Committee of the Regions decided not to give an opinion on the proposal.

5. On 2 July 2002, the European Parliament adopted an opinion at first reading on the amended proposal under point 2, approving this proposal and proposing several amendments to it.

6. On 28 January 2003, the Commission altered its amended proposal following the European Parliament's opinion.

7. On 6 October 2003, the Commission altered its amended proposal under point 6 again in order to increase the rate of the Community support to these TEN projects to 30 % maximum.

8. On 25 November 2003, the Council and the Commission representative reached unanimous agreement on a compromise for a common position as set out in document 15280/03 and related statements for the Council minutes as set out in document 5644/04, addendum 1.

9. On 24 February 2004, the Council adopted its common position pursuant to Article 251 of the Treaty.

II. SUBSTANCE

1. The substance of the Council's common position is closely based on the amended proposal (point I.6) which the Commission submitted following the opinion of the European Parliament of 2 July 2002.

2. Thus the Council in principle agreed on a rate increase to 20 % maximum for the Community support to the following TEN priority projects:

(a) satellite positioning and navigation systems as provided for in Article 17 of Decision No 1692/96/EC (Galileo-type projects);

(b) priority projects on the energy networks;

and

(c) cross-border or cross-natural-barriers sections of selected TEN transport projects as identified in Annex III to Decision No 1692/96/EC, provided in particular that the projects are started before 2010.

3. Therefore the main part of the Community support pursuant to the common position will be aimed, as proposed by the Commission and supported by the European Parliament, to contribute decisively to the realisation of the outstanding priority TEN transport projects.

4. At the same time, but with a much lesser budgetary impact, Community support will be targeted to TEN priority energy projects and Galileo-type projects.

5. The common position does not concern the e-TEN priority projects (Telecom) for which the Commission has tabled a separate proposal, which remains on the table (doc. 9099/03 interinstitutional file 2003/0086 (COD)).

6. The further provisions of the common position principally relate to budgetary procedure and commitology.

7. Concerning commitology it should be noted in particular that the common position maintains the regulatory procedure as presently foreseen for TEN implementation measures and does therefore not follow the advisory procedure, as proposed by the European Parliament and the Commission.

8. However, the common position does provide that an EIB representative without voting rights can take part in the commitology proceedings, as proposed by the European Parliament, thus allowing the EIB to contribute its special expertise on TEN financing to the Committee's deliberations.

III. THE PARLIAMENT AMENDMENTS OF 2 JULY 2002 CONCERNING THE LEGISLATIVE TEXT

1. Concerning the TEN transport priority projects, the common position reflects to a large extent the European Parliament amendments 8 and 13. Thus the cross-border sections or cross-national-barriers sections of these projects must indeed aim to eliminate bottlenecks, and/or to fill in missing sections and to promote safety, as proposed by the Parliament.

2. On the contrary, as the amended proposal of the Commission, the common position does not follow the report procedure to the European Parliament and the Council for the selection of the priority energy projects, which was proposed by the Parliament.

3. However, the common position does follow amendment 9 on the reimbursement of the Community funds in case the project is not completed within 10 years after the financial aid was paid out (new Article 13(4)) and, as stated before, amendment 10 on the presence of an EIB representative in the Committee procedure.

4. Furthermore, the common position follows amendment 11 second indent on the allocation of funds (new Article 18(2)).

IV. ANALYSIS OF THE COMMON POSITION

1. As stated above, the common position follows closely the amended proposal, which the Commission submitted following the opinion of the European Parliament.

2. For this reason it follows to a large extent the amendments of the European Parliament, which were accepted by the Commission. For the same reason, the amendments which were not accepted by the Commission were in general also not accepted by the Council, this because the Council on these last amendments followed the negative advice given by the Commission in its amended proposal, following the European Parliament opinion (point I.6).

3. The common position is furthermore based on the last amended Commission proposal, which provides for a maximum rate increase for the Community aid to 30 % (point I.7).

However, on such a high support rate, sufficient support could not be found in the Council which, as a compromise, accepted the 20 % maximum rate, also approved by the European Parliament in its opinion.

4. As recalled above, the common position does not concern the separate proposal of the Commission on the TEN priority telecom projects (doc. 9099/03, interinstitutional file 2003/0086 (COD)) which remains on the table.

V. CONCLUSIONS

For these reasons, the Council communicates to the European Parliament its common position as set out in document 5633/1/04 Rev 1.

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