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Trans-European Networks (TENs) are infrastructure networks in transport, energy and telecommunications. This note is only concerned with the transport networks (TEN-T). It gives information on the background to the scheme, its financial aspects; the priority projects it supports; and the European Commission’s plans for reform.

The original aim of TEN-T was to establish a series of interconnected and interoperable European transport networks that would remove bottlenecks and fill in missing links. Although TENs were outlined in the Treaty of Rome, the original TEN-T did not include any financial or other obligation for Member States to upgrade or complete existing infrastructure; this was included in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.

Since the early 1990s, TEN-T has developed apace though delivery has been slow and there has been continued debate about both the overall size of the budget to achieve TEN-T schemes and the mix of funding from Member States, European sources and the private sector.

In 2011 the Commission put forward two proposals which would significantly overhaul the operation of TEN-T. The first would move the programme from a voluntary to a compulsory basis (i.e. Member States would be forced to introduce transport network changes specified in an EU Regulation). The UK Government estimates that this would cost between £64 and £137 billion. The second proposal is for a Connecting Europe Facility to put the budget for TEN-T on a multi-year footing and would see a significant increase to the budget. The UK Government is resisting both of these changes.

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