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The Council of European Transport Ministers adopted on Monday 5 December its common position (General Approach) on the Commission proposal for a revision of the European Union guidelines for the development of the Trans-European Network of Transport (TEN-T).
While the text demonstrates a desire to include alternative fuels (including hydrogen) in the makeup of the future European transport network, the visible striking out of legal references to the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) from the text is concerning to Hydrogen Europe. Mentions of AFIR have been removed from provisions regarding air transport (art. 32), rail transport (arts. 15 & 16), network priorities (art. 12), road (art. 28) and inland water (art. 20) transport. One of the consequences is that potential future funding from the TEN-T funding instruments, the CEF Transport, would not be targeting the so much needed deployment of hydrogen refueling stations.
We call upon European legislators to ensure that the European funding available to TEN-T projects, such as the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Facility (CEF2/AFIF), are not withheld from future projects that will arise from AFIR as a result of these new omissions.
It is of the utmost importance that the revised TEN-T guidelines act in unison with flanking legislation from the Fit for 55 package: AFIR, FuelEU Maritime and ReFuelEU Aviation. A holistic approach to transport legislation is essential to guarantee the supply of alternative fuels in all transport modes across the continent, and thus a fast and seamless transition to sustainable zero-emission mobility.
Darko Levičar, Director for Mobility at Hydrogen Europe, said: “We are concerned to see the removal of references to AFIR in the general approach. General priorities for the network should include explicit reference that deployment is to happen according to rules set out within the AFIR text, notably in art. 6, 11 and 12a for the deployment of hydrogen refueling stations.”
“We will continue to work with policymakers and stakeholders to achieve the best possible regulatory framework in which industry can operate,” he added.
Hydrogen Europe welcomes, on the other hand, the enlargement of the conditions for maritime ports to be identified on the comprehensive network. The General Approach opens this possibility to ports below the 1 million tonnes cargo volume criteria, on the condition that their ‘contribution to the diversification of EU energy supplies and to the acceleration of the roll-out of renewable energies is one of the main activities of the port’.
This recognises the substantial role of smaller ports in the deployment of renewable energy and allows for their future development by granting them eligibility for funding under the CEF Transport instrument. As ports are foreseen to become hubs for green hydrogen imports and distribution, Hydrogen Europe supports this amendment and calls on the Parliament to endorse it.
For more information:
• General approach of the Council of the European Union
• Council press release: Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T): Council adopts its position to ensure sustainable connectivity in Europe
• Commission press release: Trans-European transport network: Council agreement paves way for greener, smarter and more resilient transport in Europe