The review of the Ten-T Network and the new opportunities for Italy in the field of sustainable finance

By ASLA - Assciazione degli Studi Legali Associati

di Beatrice Settanni

Rome - On December 14th 2021, the European Commission published the proposal for the revision of the trans-European transport networks (Ten-T), i.e. the European network of railway lines, roads, inland waterways, maritime routes, ports, airports and railway terminals subject of Regulation (EU) no. 1315/2013. The EU Commissioner for Transport, Alina Valean, announced the inclusion of the Port of Civitavecchia and the continuation of the Adriatic-Baltic corridor south of Ancona in the aforementioned legislative proposal drawn up by the European Commission following consultations and bilateral agreements with Member States . This revision is made necessary by the growing demand for transport, by the enlargement of the EU territory and by the continuing challenges related to the evolution of transport policy based on sustainability, liberalization and technological innovation (for example on the expansion of digitalisation to the whole transport system and logistic chains for a more efficient, sustainable and multimodal use of transport infrastructures).

In addition to Civitavecchia and the Adriatic backbone, four freight terminals also enter the core: the Fernetti freight terminal in Trieste, upgraded in the rail-road terminals category, Santo Stefano Magra (La Spezia), Segrate (Milan) and Agognate (Novara). Six new ports are added to the comprehensive network (Capri, Ischia, Ponza, Porto Empedocle, Porto Santo Stefano and Procida), three airports (Elba Island, Perugia and Rimini) and eight interports (Busto Arsizio joined to Gallarate, Faenza, Foggia Incoronata, Forlì Cesena Villa Selva, Ortona, Castelguelfo, Pordenone, Portogruaro).

The Commission has also proposed the expansion of the network of urban nodes, with the inclusion of another 40 Italian urban centers with more than 100,000 inhabitants, or regional capitals with even lower demographic characteristics, to promote full territorial cohesion. The inclusion of urban centers in the network involves the annexation of the related rail-road connection sections and the adoption of Urban Sustainable Mobility Plans, aiming to address some of the challenges for urban mobility.

Finally, the aforementioned proposal also includes the establishment of new European transport corridors to unify the core and extended corridors with the freight rail corridors, the creation of a new intermediate network level, the so-called "Extended core network", with an intermediate deadline of 2040 and new requirements for all modes of transport subject to an in-depth assessment of temporal and financial impacts, as well as the conversion of motorways of the sea into "European maritime space", with fewer constraints on the ports involved in the routes.

The revision of the Ten-T regulation is an integral part of the so-called green mobility package launched by the European Commission with the ambitious goal of reducing emissions from the transport sector by 90%. In this sense, the European Commission has adopted a series of proposals aimed at modernizing the transport system in the EU territory in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal and to be contextualized in the ecological transition for more efficient, green and clean mobility.

The efforts undertaken in recent years have focused, in fact, on increasing connectivity and moving an increasing number of passengers and goods on railway lines and inland waterways, supporting, inter alia, the introduction of recharging points, alternative refueling infrastructures and new digital technologies, paying increasing attention to sustainable urban mobility and making it easier to choose different transport options in an efficient multimodal transport system.

The inclusion of Civitavecchia in the European network of "core" ports and of the Adriatic backbone in the "extended core" network, as well as being an important recognition for our country, allows Italy to more easily access European Union funding for the transport networks and, in particular, the financing of the Connecting Europe Facility 2 (CEF) dedicated to the strengthening of the European transport networks and nodes, huge resources that will add to the financial commitments already undertaken with the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) and with the next budget law to strengthen ports, railways and the entire Italian logistic network.

Specifically, the CEF makes funds available for the time period 2021/2027 for 25.81 billion euros, 10 of which for the “Inland Port” and “Motorways of the Sea” projects. On 16 September 2021 the Executive Agency of the European Commission CINEA published the first CEF Transport call for the new 2021-2027 programming which presents numerous innovations compared to the previous programming both as regards the procedure for submitting proposals, which will take place through a specific platform, that the management of the same projects. The proposals may be submitted by the promoters until the deadline set for January 19, 2022. 

In this regard, it should also be noted that the MIMS Decree of 13 August 2021 "Approval of the program of infrastructural interventions in the port area, synergistic and complementary to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan", published in the Official Gazette last October 2, had ordered the allocation of a total amount of 2.835 billion euros relating to the financial years from 2021 to 2026, in compliance with the procedural schedule provided for in annex 1 to the decree of the Minister of Economy and Finance of 15 July 2021, to be divided among the System Authorities Port, Municipalities and based on the type of intervention (environment, energy efficiency, cold ironing, etc.), as reported in Annex 1 of the provision which also identifies the implementing body and the CUP.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Ecological Transition has launched the Green Ports project which provides for a total expenditure of 270 million euros aimed at financing the proposals presented by the Port System Authorities. The interventions object of this initiative are the production of energy from renewable sources (70 million euros), energy efficiency interventions both of the port buildings (39 million euros) and of the lighting systems (30 million euros), means of transport electricity (62 million euros), interventions on inefficient port energy infrastructures (23 million euros), construction of infrastructures for the use of electricity in the port (22 million euros), methods of reducing emissions (24 million euros) EUR). The electrification of ports through the development of cold ironing to provide the boats moored in the port with energy (especially from renewable sources) through an electrical connection with the mainland is certainly one of the most sensitive issues at the moment.

On this point, we point out, inter alia, the virtuous initiatives of the Ports of Savona and Civitavecchia. In the first, a simple system of consumption and production was created at the service of port users, now powered by 121 kW of photovoltaic solar panels destined to increase up to 4 MW, and able to satisfy, once fully operational, 95% of the annual energy requirement of the port of Savona or 45% of this requirement plus the consumption of a large passenger ship ten times a month. The Port of Civitavecchia, on the other hand, has recently granted a concession to Artemio Energia, in the service dock, for the installation of two experimental turbines on the vent holes of the wave barrier, for the start of the second phase of a project that aims to produce wave electricity.

After the strong setback caused by the Covid-19 emergency, Italy today has the great opportunity to create in the long term, through sustainable finance, an important enhancement of assets and strategic sectors for our country, directing capital towards activities that not only generate an economic surplus, but are at the same time useful to society and not at the expense of the environmental system.

Lawyer, Gianni e Origoni Law Firm