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Business

EU to invest more in energy projects to boost infrastructure

The European Commission has unveiled plans to provide billions of euros to boost the bloc’s infrastructure and upgrade and expand its energy grids. Brussels hopes the move will lead to lower energy prices.

European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger on Monday presented a list of some 250 energy-related cross-border projects which would get a financial shot in the arm from Brussels until 2020.

He said 5.9 billion euros ($8 billion) would be allocated to boost the 28-member bloc's infrastructure in the years ahead with a view to raising its competitiveness and lowering its dependence from foreign sources.

The plan also envisaged investments in 20 projects with German participation, leaving open for the time being just how much Europe's powerhouse nation would eventually get from the EU executive.

Praise from industry

Oettinger said all projects to be supported were of general EU interest, with at least two member countries profiting directly. The commissioner hoped EU nations would subsequently be able to get out more of their joint internal market and thus bolster competition and bring down energy prices for both companies and households.

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Germany's high electricity prices

He added that approval procedures for projects had to be completed within three-and-a-half years. So far, such procedures had taken an average of 10 years, with a power line project between France and Spain even taking 37 years to get the green light from the responsible authorities.

Oettinger said only one authority per state involved would in future be accepted to serve as an official contact for a given project.

Germany's Federal Association for Energy and Water Management (BDEW) welcomed the EU executive's proposals as “an important and necessary step.” It argued that accelerated approval procedures would attract more private investors for grid extension schemes.

hg/ph (dpa, AFP)

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