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What are CEF?

Connecting Europe Facility



The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a key EU funding instrument to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level. It supports the development of high performing, sustainable andefficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy and digital services. CEF investments fill the missing links in Europe's energy, transport and digital backbone.

The CEF benefits people across all Member States, as it makes travel easier and more sustainable, it enhances Europe’s energy security while enabling wider use of renewables, and it facilitates cross-border interaction between public administrations,businesses and citizens.

In addition to grants, the CEF offers financial support to projects through innovative financial instruments such as guarantees and project bonds. These instruments create significant leverage in their use of EU budget and act as a catalyst to attract further funding from the private sector and other public sector actors.

The first generation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF-1) “Telecom” strand (2014-2020) facilitated the cross-border interaction between public administrations, businesses and citizens, by deploying, among other things, Digital Service Infrastructures (DSI).

With a budget of approximately €1 billion earmarked for trans-European networks in the telecommunications sector, of which €203 million is now managed by the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA), the programme supported two types of digital services:

  • Re-usable digital services that can be integrated into/combined with other projects, covering eIdentification, eSignature, eInvoicing, eDelivery and Automated Translation (building blocks).
  • Specific digital service infrastructures covering areas such as cyber security, eHealth, European Platform for Digital Jobs and Skills, Business Registers Interconnection System, Europeana, eProcurement, Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information, Public Open Data, European e-Justice Portal, Safer Internet and online dispute resolution.

The 2nd generation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF-2 programme) “Digital” strand (2021-2027) aims to support and catalyse investments in digital connectivity infrastructures of common interest. The programme has a total budget of €2,065 billion, of which €1,7 billion is managed by HaDEA. Actions foreseen to be supported under CEF-2 Digital include:

  • Deployment of/access to very high-capacity networks, including 5G systems, capable of providing Gigabit connectivity in areas where socio-economic drivers, such as schools, universities, hospitals, transport hubs, public administrations, etc., are located;
  • Uninterrupted coverage of 5G systems on all major transport paths, including the trans-European transport networks;
  • Deployment of new or significant upgrade of existing backbone networks including submarine cables, both within/between the EU Member States and third countries;
  • Implementation of digital connectivity infrastructures related to cross-border transport and energy projects and/or the support of operational digital platforms directly associated to these infrastructures.

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