The European Commission on Wednesday published a list with 195 key energy infrastructure projects of common interest, including five Croatian.

The projects will enable the gradual build-up of the Energy Union by integrating the energy markets in Europe, by diversifying the energy sources and transport routes. In addition, the projects will help bring an end to the energy isolation of some member states. They will also boost the level of renewables on the grid, bringing down carbon emissions, the EC said.

Among the selected energy projects are five Croatian projects: the Zerjavenec/Heviz and Cirkovice project, an electricity interconnection between Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia; the LNG terminal on the island of Krk and the gas pipeline Zlobin-Bosiljevo-Sisak-Kozarac-Slobodnica; the Croatian-Slovenian gas interconnection Lucko-Zabok-Rogatec; the renovation, upgrading, maintenance and capacity expansion of the Adriatic Oil Pipeline; and the Croatian-Slovenian smart grid project Sinco.grid.

The projects of common interest envisage a faster procedure for the issuance of permits and improved regulatory conditions. Financial assistance is available within the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Funds amounting to 5.35 billion euros are available under CEF for the trans-European energy infrastructure in the period 2014-2020 to facilitate the implementation of projects of common interest and make them more attractive to investors.

The list of projects is an update of the list of projects of common interest adopted in October 2013. That list included 108 electricity, 77 gas, 7 oil and 3 smart grids projects.

The projects will benefit from a number of advantages: strengthened transparency and improved public consultation; accelerated permit granting procedures; improved, faster and better streamlined environmental assessment; a single national competent authority will act as a one-stop-shop for permit granting procedures; improved regulatory treatment by allocating costs according to the net benefits, and regulatory incentives; and the possibility of receiving financial assistance under CEF in the form of grants and innovative financial instruments.

For a project to be included in the list, it had to demonstrate significant benefits for at least two member states; contribute to market integration and further competition; enhance security of supply, and reduce CO2 emissions, the EC said.

To meet the huge investment challenge the EU has set up funds like the Connecting Europe Facility and the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) which will help leverage the investment needed. Under CEF, in 2014 and 2015, 797 million euros has been allocated to co-finance studies and construction works to help implement the projects of common interest.

Since the adoption of the first list of projects of common interest in 2013, 13 projects have been completed or will be commissioned before the end of 2015. Furthermore, some 62 projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2017, the EC said.

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