The European Commission has made grants totalling € 2.3 billion to 31 gas and 12 electricity infrastructure projects. Thes are all major energy projects that it conciders will significantly contribute to the economic recovery in the EU, while increasing its security of energy supply by creating cross-border infrastructure. This is the second financial decision under the Economic Recovery Package which amounts to almost 4 billion Euros. It is the largest amount the EU has ever spent on energy infrastructure.

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said: “Under the EU’s Recovery Plan we finance ‘smart investment’ – a short-term stimulus targeted on long-term goals. Investing in key infrastructure will not only give a push to the economy and employment, but it will also help ensuring that citizens homes will have heating and electricity, even in the event of supply disruptions. We have learnt the lessons of the recent gas crisis which is one of the reasons why we decided to allocate major financial assistance to new energy infrastructure projects”.

Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner responsible for Energy said: “Never before has the Commission agreed such an important amount for energy projects. We have selected key projects which will help creating a more integrated energy network in Europe ensuring flexible energy flows across Member States’ borders.

Europe’s energy and climate objectives require large and risky infrastructure investments with long pay-back times. The problem is that, in today’s economic climate, such projects risk to be delayed. This is a moment where Europe can play an important role in keeping these projects on track”.

The Commission decision grants € 910 million for 12 electricity interconnection projects and € 1390 million for 31 gas pipeline projects. The projects selected will help to deliver major investment projects which were at risk of major delay because of the economic slowdown. By co-financing parts of these projects up to 50% the EU contribution will help to lever up to 22 billion euros of private sector investment. The 2.3 billion Euros will be granted to project developers over the next 18 months.

The electricity and gas infrastructure projects selected reflect the energy priorities of the EU. These include the need to better interconnect all EU Member States and to reduce the isolation of remoter parts, such as the three Baltic States, Ireland and Malta. They also confirm the need for greater security of gas supplies by supporting projects for reverse flow in 9 Member States and the Nabucco and Galsi projects to diversify gas imports.

These investments will help stimulate employment and ensure the survival of many small businesses in the construction and services industries, and should make energy supplies more reliable.

In March 2009 the EU set aside €3.98 billion to assist European economic recovery. With the Carbon Capture and Offshore Wind Projects which the Commission agreed to support on 9 December 2009, the budget for energy projects in the European energy Recovery Programme is now 97 % committed.