Genoa - The financing for the CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) funds to support the Trans-European Networks (TEN, which also include the Motorways of the Sea) will be reduced until 2020, when a new seven-year investment programme is established. As of now 2 billion have been distributed for the MoS. But in the meantime other instruments could be activated, especially after the European Union decided to set its sight on innovation and on blending (a blend of public and private investments), to obtain European contributions to projects like those for the Motorways of the Sea. Their concept has changed over the course of the years. Alexio Picco, the C.E.O. of Circle and an expert on E.U. funding, recalled, “Originally, the Motorways of the Sea corresponded to short sea shipping. Support was given to the line or to infrastructure in the ports between which the line operated. But this created difficulties for certain projects. From 2010 the DG MOVE of the European Commission extended the concept of MoS to the entire maritime part of the TEN Networks.
Besides traditional projects, transverse projects important for maritime transportation could also be financed.” In the last five years, within the CEF funds, it was determined that three macro-categories of projects could be financed, which were then identified in the 2016 document, “Motorway of the Seas Detailed Implementation Plan” (which will be released in a new edition in 2017 and then in 2018). The first category concerns environmental protection, which includes the whole conversation about liquefied natural gas as fuel for ships, therefore the adaptation of the ships themselves and the construction of fuel deposits in the ports. Picco again explained, “In the Baltic Sea, it is a SECA [i.e. Sulphur Emissions Control Area], where the limits on emissions are particularly strict, the financing came not only for LNG, but also for scrubbers and for the use of cleaner diesel fuels and two of the Stena Company’s methanol ships were co-financed by the MoS.” The second category is for the integration of maritime transport in the logistical chain: “Greater attention is being paid to the fact that the maritime routes financed are linked to the European Corridors. From port-to-port we have moved on to hinterland-to-hinterland.
Other interventions included in this category are customs streamlining projects, like the customs corridors for rail and road transport that were financed in Italy and technological improvements concerning the logistics chain, in which the maritime part is important.” The third is the most heterogeneous and includes safety and security, and sea traffic management. The latter is “the application of the system of inspections used for aerial traffic to the maritime world, for example, the predetermination of routes. It is a security factor that, for example, could have prevented an incident like what happened to the Concordia.” Another example that falls under this category is the Picasso Project, which calls for an evacuation exercise for a cruise ship with three thousand persons on board, which will be carried out in Malta. Training also falls under this category: Picco specifies, “Not the standard mandatory training, but post-graduate or professional education for the managers of ports.”