The European Commission opened the 2023 call for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Transport. In total, the call features a budget of €7 billion, which will be dedicated to projects on the core and comprehensive TEN-T network. This means that only TEN-T core or comprehensive ports are eligible for CEF funding. The deadline for applications is 30 January 2024 (17:00 Brussels time).
Please note that in parallel, the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Facility (AFIF) call is still open, until 7 November 2023.
The call is divided into various topics under which your project(s) can be submitted, each with a dedicated budget:
|General envelope||Cohesion envelope|
|Projects on the core network (studies, works or mixed)||€2.69 billion||€2.8 billion|
|Projects on the comprehensive network (studies, works or mixed)||€250 million||€350 million|
|Smart and interoperable mobility||€400 million||€150 million|
|Sustainable and multimodal mobility||€100 million|
|Safe and secure mobility||€100 million||€150 million|
Eligible actions most relevant for maritime ports contain the following elements:
(1) Maritime ports
- port access aiming at providing safe maritime access in the form of breakwaters, access channels, fairways, locks and navigational aids (e.g., radar, buoys);
- basic port infrastructure, which are not covered under section 6.2.2 ‘Actions related to sustainable and multimodal mobility’ of the Work Programme (with a priority on development of zero or low-emission multimodal solutions; development of ports capacities and facilities in relation with the transportation activities of the offshore wind farms; or, improving connectivity of remote, insular or outermost regions or of Member States with no land border with another Member State)
- shore-side electricity supply (including an upgrade of electrical grid within the port if it is needed for the shore-side electricity supply);
- port reception facilities for oil and other waste (including residues from exhaust gas cleaning systems) to meet environmental requirements;
- ensuring year-round navigability by means of capital dredging and ice-breaking facilities (the capital dredging will be supported only as an intervention to remove bottlenecks for the EU short sea shipping);
- providing or improving inland waterways/road/rail access and connections within maritime ports. The rail access could cover rail infrastructure e.g., new rail tracks, upgrade of existing rail tracks, adaptation for 740 meter long trains and connections within the maritime ports.
- on-site renewable energy generation (synergetic element) for the need of port infrastructure and for port operations (such as photovoltaic power plants, wind turbines etc.) (may not exceed 20% of total eligible costs);
Outside the scope: infrastructure dedicated for cruise ships (except shore-side electricity supply); infrastructure in shipyards; maintenance dredging, dredgers and/or dredging equipment; digital port systems/ICT platforms; utilities installations; fixed and/or mobile superstructure.
Hinterland road access can be supported only if rail access to/within the port does not exist, or it is not currently under construction, and the road access constitutes a significant bottleneck.
The basic port infrastructure for development of zero or low-emission multimodal solutions could include basic port infrastructure for improving the interconnection between the maritime transport and inland waterways.
(2) Motorways of the Sea (MoS)
More information here.
- the upgrade of port infrastructure, hinterland connections and dedicated terminals, where required to establish or expand such short sea shipping links with a focus on cross-border short-sea shipping. Such projects must involve at least one Core Network port in a Member State and another Core or Comprehensive Network port in another Member State. The investments between the ports should be reasonably balanced.
- The activities listed under maritime ports (see point (1) above) related to port access, basic infrastructure, shore-side electricity, port reception facilities, year-round navigability, providing or improving inland waterways/road/rail access and connections.
- Improvement of port handling capacity through the construction or upgrade of freight and/or passenger terminals, safe and secure parkings, investments in customs, phytosanitary, immigration or security facilities but excluding administrative / office buildings, passenger car parks, warehouses, storage areas and facilities, etc., and excluding mobile superstructure (e.g. port/terminal equipment and vehicles, mobile ramps, etc.).
- Digitalisation of port operations, excluding support to shipping operators.
- Projects facilitating the provision and use of short sea shipping but not linked to specific ports such as ICT platforms, facilities for ice-breaking or activities ensuring year-round navigability. Such projects should benefit and be used by the wider maritime community and must include the participation of at least two entities from two different Member States.
MoS Actions are entitled to the increased co-financing rate foreseen for cross-border links (up to 50%).
Outside scope: maritime vessels will not be supported except for ice-breaking activities.
(3) European Maritime Single Window
More information here.
- actions related to the implementation of the European Maritime Single Window environment (EMSWe).
(4) Transport infrastructure resilience
More information here.
- improvement of transport infrastructure resilience, in particular to adapt / upgrade the infrastructure or installing smart monitoring systems due to climate change and / or natural disasters. The projects should demonstrate high risks associated with no action. The projects should be defined and implemented in accordance with the National Adaptation Plan or the relevant strategy of the concerned Member State.
(5) Adapting transport infrastructure for Union external border checks purposes
More information: General (CEF-T-2023-SAFEMOBGEN) / Cohesion
- projects aiming at facilitating traffic flows for land and waterborne transport modes at border control areas at the Union external border of the TEN-T network. The projects, targeting only the transport infrastructure, will inter alia improve the connections to the border crossing points, and parking lines and spaces related to the border controls.
The Commission is organising a virtual information day on the 10th of October, during which the priorities of the 2023 as well as tips on a successful proposal will be presented. The dedicated session for maritime and inland waterway is foreseen for 10:35 – 11:10 (CEST).
More information and the option to register can be found here.
Funding for OPS: OPS projects can receive funding under both the CEF and the AFIF programmes. To recall, the AFIF is the dedicated funding instrument to support alternative fuel infrastructure projects, including OPS and hydrogen refuelling stations. While ports can submit an application for their OPS project under both AFIF and CEF calls, OPS projects under the CEF call will face higher competition with other types of projects as well as with other modes. As such, members are advised to submit OPS projects (and other alternative fuel infrastructure projects) under the AFIF call, as these applications are expected to have a higher rate of success.
Final call: please note that this 2023 call is the final call under the current funding envelope. Future calls will be based around reflow funds, which will make the budget for the upcoming calls smaller.
To recall - what is the AFIF about?
The objective of the AFIF is to support the deployment of alternative fuel supply infrastructure. The AFIF is part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and is managed and implemented by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). The AFIF will fund projects through the combination of CEF grants with additional financial support from financial institutions.
The AFIF is implemented through a rolling call for proposals, with several cut-off dates until the end of 2023. The Commission has informally confirmed to ESPO that the AFIF funding continue after 2023.
Only ports that are part of the TEN-T network can apply for AFIF funding.
Eligible port projects include:
- On-shore power supply (OPS), including the related necessary grid connection;
- The fitting and retrofitting of the main propulsion systems of port vehicles and equipment;
- Hydrogen refuelling stations for long haul high-duty vehicles (for ports in urban nodes), in terminals for refuelling shunting locomotives, for supplying port vehicles and equipment, and for supplying waterborne vessels;
- LNG refuelling stations supplying waterborne vessels (including bunkering vessels and storage facilities)
Members are also invited to watch this short Youtube video (1:33 min) made by CINEA, giving a concise explanation on the workings of the AFIF.