The recent publication of the revised list of European energy projects of common interest (PCIs) and the specific reference by the co-presidency of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) last June to the added value of such a list for approval of projects of interest to Europe and the Mediterranean further highlight the importance of the projected East Med pipeline, which is intended to supply the rest of Europe, via Greece, with natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean. One of the essential conditions for this is the prompt connection of Cyprus to the 'Aphrodite' field.
In view of this:
1. What view does the Commission take of listing energy projects of particular interest to Europe and the Mediterranean, based on corresponding projects relating to Europe, and what measures will it take to encourage this, given the growing geopolitical importance of the area?
2. What EU funding can be made available for the construction of the pipeline connecting the 'Aphrodite' field with Cyprus, with a view to the rapid implementation of the East Med project?
3. Could be the construction such a pipeline be eligible under the Juncker plan for support in the form of grants, guarantees or loans from the European Investment Bank?
Answer given by Mr Arias Cañete on behalf of the Commission
1. The Commission has acknowledged on many occasions the potential of the East Mediterranean region in the context of the recent gas discoveries and follows with great interest the development plans for the Cyprus gas field Aphrodite and the other gas sources in the area.
One of the main tools used by the European Commission to support the development of energy infrastructure in line with EU energy policy is through the process of selection of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) in line with the TEN-E Regulation (EU) No 347/2013. The PCI label entitles the project to streamlined permit granting procedures, improved regulatory treatment and potentially access to financial support from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The PCIs status of the EastMed Pipeline was confirmed in the second Union list, adopted in November 2015.
2. The connection of the Aphrodite field to Cyprus could potentially access financial instruments from the EIB. These could come in the form of loans, guarantees and other instruments, also under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). As an upstream pipeline, it would not be eligible under Connecting Europe Facility.
3. Yes, the project could be eligible for support under the European Fund for Strategic Investments.