Please find below some frequently asked questions attributed to Motorways of the Sea funding. If the information you are looking for is not available below, please contact us!
- General questions
- Marco Polo specific questions
- TEN-T specific questions
What is the TEN-T programme and what type of projects does it support?
The detailed information about TEN-T Programme, its managing institution and projects can be consulted at the following links:
What is the Marco Polo programme and what types of projects does it support?
Detailed information on the Marco Polo programme, its managing institution and projects can be found on the Marco Polo website.
What is the difference between Motorways of the Sea projects in the Marco Polo and TEN-T programme?
Both the Marco Polo programme and the TEN-T programme have a possibility to finance Motorways of the Sea (MoS) actions, but both programmes have different objectives and type of projects.
The Marco Polo II programme finances projects that shift freight from road to more environmentally-friendly modes of transport, such as rail or shipping. It is targeted towards transport services, with only a very limited possibility to additionally finance ancillary infrastructure. Projects should be submitted by commercial undertakings.
The Trans-European Transport network (TEN-T) has as a main aim to develop an integrated transport network in Europe. The TEN-T programme is therefore focussed on infrastructure; it dedicates financial support towards the realisation of important transport infrastructure projects. Projects should be proposed by Member States.
- Transport services
- Ancillary infrastructures
- Modal shift objective
- Private sector driven
- Direct call for proposals
- Infrastructure & facilities
- Start-up aid
- Creation of transport network
- Public sector driven
- Member State pre-selection
TEN-T also has a limited possibility to finance transport services. How does this differ from Marco Polo?
The TEN-T programme can also provide start-up aid for MoS services. Up to 30% co-financing of two years of depreciation of eligible capital costs can be requested by potential beneficiaries in areas such as user specific infrastructure/facilities (e.g. terminal equipment, buildings), fixed or semi-mobile equipment (e.g. cranes or ramps), locomotives, ships or vessel equipment allocated to MoS service or adjustment of vessels for the purpose of MoS.
The start-up support under TEN-T Guidelines is limited to two years. The aid may not exceed the minimum estimated amount required to start up the links concerned and may not lead to distortion of competition in the relevant markets.
The difference with the Marco Polo programme can be found in:
Maximum 2 years
Subsidy paid according to:
Modal shift & eligible costs
Proposals submitted by:
Marco Polo also has a limited possibility to finance infrastructure. How does this differ from TEN-T?
Pure infrastructure projects are not eligible for funding under the Marco Polo programme. However, for all actions - with the exception of Common Learning Actions - there is a possibility to include ancillary infrastructure costs as eligible costs, up to a maximum of 20% of the total eligible costs. Ancillary infrastructure is defined as "the necessary infrastructure to achieve the goals of the actions, including freight-passenger installations".
While the ancillary infrastructure under the Marco Polo programme must be related to the start of an actual transport service, TEN-T funding supports the infrastructure works and facilities in ports or in hinterland, which must remain open to all users.
The difference with the TEN-T programme can be found in:
Improve works and facilities in ports and hinterland
Necessary to start a transport service
Proposals submitted by:
Can studies on Motorways of the Sea be financed?
Studies on Motorways of the Sea can only be financed under the TEN-T programme, not under the Marco Polo programme. There is a possibility for up to 50% co-financing for studies carried out at a regional or European scale. In addition, study parts of infrastructure projects could be eligible. Priorities will be defined yearly in a TEN-T call for proposal. For more information please see the TEN-T EA website.
When can I submit a proposal?
A proposal can be submitted when a Call for Proposals has been launched. Calls for the Marco Polo and TEN-T programme are launched on an annual basis. The opening of a Call will also be announced here on the Motorways of the Sea website, but the documents can be found on the respective websites of the TEN-T EA and Marco Polo programme.
Please note that projects under the Marco Polo programme should be submitted by commercial undertakings, while all project proposals submitted to the TEN-T programme should be first pre-selected by the Member States as a result of their regional calls for proposals.
Can I combine support from Marco Polo and TEN-T?
Only provided it is not a cumulative request for the same part of action. For example, you can apply for co-financing your port infrastructure with TEN-T and for co-financing the transport service with Marco Polo. Cumulating the TEN-T start-up subsidy with Marco Polo co-financing for a MoS service is not possible. The operator must either apply for TEN-T funding or Marco Polo funding – not both.
Can I combine support from Marco Polo or TEN-T with another EU subsidy?
It is possible to cumulate TEN-T co-financing with other EU financial instruments such as ERDF for example, provided it does not cover the same part of action or activity. However, this possibility does not apply to Marco Polo programme.
Marco Polo co-financing cannot be combined with another EU subsidy.
What is the maximum co-financing rate for MoS projects?
The TEN-T can co-finance up to 20% of infrastructure or facilities costs, or up to 30% of the "cross-border" parts of the project. Studies and pilot actions can be co-financed up to a maximum 50% and the start up aid is limited to 30% of two years of depreciation of eligible capital (investment) costs.
Marco Polo can co-finance up to 35% of the eligible costs of a project, but the subsidy is also based on the modal shift achieved during the project (on the basis of €2/500 tkm shifted) and the deficit of the project.
I am a private entity; can I submit my project directly?
This depends on which programme you are applying for. For TEN-T this is not possible: According to art 13 of the TEN-T Guidelines, the project proposal should be submitted first to Member States who make a pre-selection of projects. The Member States regularly publish their own calls for proposals. The Member States make a decision which projects will be submitted for granting the financial assistance by the Commission.
For Marco Polo this is possible. Projects should be submitted by commercial undertakings.
Who manages the Motorways of the Sea Helpdesk?
The Motorways of the Sea Helpdesk is jointly managed by the TEN-T Executive Agency and the EACI (Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation), which is in charge of the Marco Polo programme.
How can I request general information on Motorways of the Sea?
The information on Motorways of the Sea and their co-funding options is available on this website. However, if you can’t findthe specific information for which you are looking, please contact us with your questions!
Which MoS activities can TEN-T and Marco Polo finance?
TEN-T funding supports the following MoS related activities or actions:
- Infrastructure works and facilities in ports or in hinterland (e.g. port access actions, new MoS dedicated terminals, logistics systems, safety and security measures)
- Actions of wider benefits (e.g. icebreaking, dredging operations, setting up common IT systems, traffic monitoring)
- Start-up aid for MoS services
- Pilot actions
- Studies related to issues of wider benefit at regional or European level (e.g. studies on electronic systems related to MoS, one-stop shop studies, environmental aspects)
The Marco Polo Programme can provide subsidies to door-to-door services, shifting freight from long road distances to a combination of short sea shipping and other environmentally friendly modes of transport. Co-financing for some ancillary infrastructure is also available.
Will I receive co-financing for a MoS infrastructure project implemented only in one country?
Both the TEN-T and Marco Polo Programmes require that an eligible project should concern at least two countries. No co-financing will be awarded to TEN-T MoS projects or Marco Polo projects implemented only at national level. All types of projects must be submitted by two Member States.
Marco Polo specific questions
TEN-T specific questions
What is the maximum co-financing rate for TEN-T MoS projects?
The TEN-T can co-finance up to 20% of infrastructure or facilities costs, or up to 30% of the "cross-border" parts of the project. Studies and pilot actions can be co-financed up to a maximum 50%. The start up aid is limited to 30% of two years of depreciation of eligible capital (investment) costs.
What is a MoS cross-border type of project?
In order to be considered cross-border action and benefit from a higher co-financing rate of 30%, the MoS project has to fulfil the specific criteria which can be consulted under the following link: http://tentea.ec.europa.eu/download/calls_2009/definition_cross_border_sections_en.pdf
I am a private entity; can I submit my project directly to the MoS call published yearly by the TEN-T Agency?
No. According to art 13 of the TEN-T Guidelines, the project proposal should be submitted first to Member States who make a pre-selection of projects. The Member States publish regularly their own calls for proposals. The Member States make a decision on which projects will be submitted for granting the financial assistance by the Commission.
Can I submit a project that extends to a non-EU country?
Yes. However, only its part that geographically remains within the EU borders will be eligible for the TEN-T support. It is advised though to contact directly the authorities of the non-EU country to check the available type of support that could be obtained there as well. The EU has set up a number of financial supporting instruments available to the EU neighbouring countries and some of those may also support the transport projects, among which MoS actions. If a proposal is extended to a non-EU neighbouring country, it must also be endorsed by a relevant authority of that country.
I want to establish a new Motorway of the Sea co-financed with TEN-T Programme. Can I submit an application alone?
No. For the TEN-T programme, you need to establish a consortium that includes at least two ports in two EU Member States and associate a shipping company. Taking into account the intermodal character of the MoS actions, involvements of other consortium members such as hinterland transport operators, freight forwarders, logistics companies, ship brokers etc is highly recommended. You also need to ensure to receive official support from at least two Member States concerned.
You can however submit an MoS service related application alone to the Marco Polo Programme which does not require an involvement of project consortium.
What type of studies can be submitted?
The priorities for studies are defined yearly by the Commission in its Multi-Annual Work Programme for grants in the field of TEN-T. The priorities for 2012 include studies of wider benefits carried out at a regional or European scale, or study parts of infrastructure projects. The studies of wider benefits could cover e.g. environmental aspects or Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), both related to MoS. The study parts of infrastructure projects should be clearly separated from works and it should be clearly demonstrated that the undertaking of the works is not dependent on the execution and/or conclusion of the study(ies).
Can I apply for both the TEN-T funding and cohesion or Marco Polo funding for my project?
Yes. However, provided it is not a cumulative request for the same part of action. You can then apply for co-financing of your port infrastructure with TEN-T for example and for co-financing the transport service with Marco Polo. Cumulating the TEN-T start-up subsidy with Marco Polo co-financing for a MoS service is not possible. The operator must either apply for TEN-T funding or Marco Polo funding – not both.
I currently operate a short sea shipping service between two EU ports and would like to upgrade it to the MoS door-to-door integrated service. Is this kind of project eligible for co-financing?
Yes. The upgrade of service would be an eligible project for co-financing with the TEN-T or Marco Polo instrument. It would be advisable to apply for co-financing the infrastructure with TEN-T and the services as such from Marco Polo.
Should my infrastructure project have clearance from environmental authorities before submission to the TEN-T EA?
Yes. Ideally the works projects should have an environmental clearance from national relevant authorities. This should include all construction permits and certificates of complying with the EU environmental legislation. Templates for such certificates are available within the application forms for the TEN-T projects.
To what extent should the (maritime) operators commit themselves? Please explain the notion of "letter of support".
The "letters of support" submitted by transport operators should properly reflect their involvement in the project and demonstrate the project's viability. This may range from a direct involvement as a beneficiary of financial aid - and then no letter is needed, to a supportive involvement without direct financial implication for the operator. In the latter case, the operator should prove that it will be collaborating with other members of the MoS consortium to deliver the expected outcome of the implementing project i.e. setup new or improve the existing transport connections.
The support letters, presented most preferably as letters of intent, should state clearly the operator's firm, explicit and credible commitment to the project. The letter should refer to such elements such as:
- the operator's role in the project
- the organisational involvement in the project e.g. through active participation in the project Steering Committee meetings
- co-operation with the project's (other) beneficiaries
- technical involvement i.e. readiness to launch, operate and maintain frequent regular service(s) for the purpose of the MoS starting at the latest six months before the end of the Action
- demonstration of concrete plans for operating the service
- financial involvement i.e. safeguarding adequate financial means to achieve the launching or improvement of the desired service.
Detailed explanation of the above elements will be expected - especially in case of proposals aiming to launch new transport services. Costs of organisational involvement of operators in the project can be co-financed at a 50% rate to guarantee their active and dedicated participation. Such an involvement could, for example, be covered within the Project Development & Management activity.
Please give some examples of what can be included in pilot actions.
Pilot actions should pave the way for deployment of new and innovative concepts and technologies contributing to implementation of the MoS concept through prototyping, testing and validation. They can vary from actions related to innovation in setting up new or improving existing maritime links to achieving MoS actions of wider benefits. The particular examples of such innovations may include, but are not limited to:
- integrated IT systems for cargo tracking and tracing within the entire MoS chain
- reduction of administrative burden by implementation of IT information exchange/reporting systems or single windows for MoS services
- validation of the operational benefits of new ro-ro ship prototypes or of innovative, environmentally friendly ship propulsions/engines for MoS services
- new logistics concepts for providing alternative energy carriers (e.g. LNG) to MoS vessels
- innovative logistics concepts accelerating intermodal operations in terminals, including automation of intermodal cargo handling terminals for MoS
- regional organisation of icebreaking operation for MoS
- innovative dredging concepts significantly reducing further maintenance of fairways or basins designated to MoS services
The pilot actions cannot be repetitive therefore the applicants are kindly requested to consult the list of existing MoS projects in the 'MoS Examples' section before submitting their applications.
Please clarify according to which criteria study and pilot action proposals will be evaluated by the TEN-T EA. Are the evaluation criteria different than the ones for implementation project proposals? How was this done for the evaluation of the study proposal on the update of the Baltic Maritime Outlook?
Studies and pilot actions will be evaluated against four criteria:
This is a standard set of criteria applicable in the evaluation of all TEN-T projects. Specific elements within the above criteria are defined in the MoS call text and applied to implementation projects.
Are study proposals supported by one EU Member State and Norway eligible for funding?
All kind of projects, including studies, have to be supported by at least two EU Member States. This condition cannot be fulfilled by receiving support from one Member State and Norway. Norway is not a member of the EU and as a result it cannot benefit from the TEN-T Programme.
Nonetheless, Norway could participate in a MoS project without co-financing its involvement from the TEN-T fund. In any case such a project would still have to involve support of two Member States and Norway when submitted to the TEN-T call for proposals.
What should be the financial situation of companies requesting TEN-T contribution for the MoS projects?
As stated on page 314 of the Guide for Applicants, applicants which are not a Member State, a public sector body or an EEIG (i.e. applicants that qualify as private undertakings or bodies) have to prove that they have the financial and operational capacity to carry-out the proposed action. Normally this should be proved with submission of recent financial statements including balance sheets, income statements and cash flows.
As far as new companies are concerned, we would expect that such a company demonstrates through relevant financial statements that it has sufficient financial capacity enabling it to implement the project or provide a letter of support from its parent company with a commitment of continuous financial support, if needed, during the project implementation period. The letter of support from the parent company should be accompanied by their financial statements.
Is a purchase of mobile infrastructure for the purpose of a motorway of the sea project eligible for co-financing under the TEN-T Programme?
On condition that the eligibility criteria are met, the financing of mobile infrastructure such as e.g. locomotive, gantry crane, reach stacker or a security scanner could be eligible for up to 20% co-financing under the TEN-T programme as port equipment, on the condition that:
- the equipment is open to any user on a non-discriminatory basis
- the equipment is used throughout its economic lifetime for the Motorways of the Sea project
- no other EU co-financing has been awarded.
If the equipment is not open to any user on a non-discriminatory basis, its co-financing could be considered as start-up aid (as provided under Article 13(5), second indent of the TEN Guidelines).
May a potential beneficiary participate as a partner of two different project proposals?
You can participate as partners of two different projects although ideally you should not be applying in these projects for the same investments. All MoS implementation projects are subject to preselection by the Member States and it would be expected that the Member States make their final decision for competing projects requesting co-financing for the same investments. The reason is that the same investments cannot be co-financed twice, even if submitted in two different applications.
Which institution should endorse my MoS application prior to submission to the Agency?
Each application should be supported and endorsed by governments of at least two Member States concerned by the application. If the project involves partners from more than two Member States than the application must be endorsed by governments of all the Member States concerned. The national administrations should validate the applications in section A.2.4 for each applicant.
In case of submitting implementation projects (works), the applications have to be submitted, evaluated and pre-selected first within the regional calls of the Member States concerned, and only then they will be eligible for the TEN-T call for proposal.
My implementation project involves partners from two Member States but only investments on the territory of one Member State will require TEN-T co-financing. Do I need to obtain governmental endorsement for the project from both Member States?
Yes. All the MoS implementation projects have to be supported/endorsed by at least two Member States concerned, involve at least two ports and a maritime operator. This rule applies also to projects where TEN-T investments are planned only on territory of one Member State.
What costs can be claimed as eligible in my MoS application? Are interest charges related to the investment in infrastructure superstructure counted as eligible costs for example?
The costs eligibility is foreseen in article III.3.7 of the general conditions of the standard model decision (published in the background documentation part of the TEN-T Agency's call for proposal dedicated website http://tentea.ec.europa.eu/download/useful_documents/decisiontexten_template_2010_06_21after_cis_61495clean.doc). Article III.3.7.6 , alineas (b) and (d) of the above mentioned decision stipulates that interest owed and debt and debt service charges shall not be considered as eligible for example.
Are MoS Research and Development projects eligible for TEN-T support?
No, the TEN-T Programme does not support projects which are still in the R&D stage. There are other EU instruments making grants available to those projects. Nonetheless, the TEN-T Programme admits MoS pilot actions which intend to overcome technical and operational obstacles when introducing new technologies, as well as prototypes or innovative concepts related to maritime transport. These pilots should:
- be unique
- prepare for future deployment
- include evaluation and validation studies or technical support measures (i.e. full scale demonstrators), if possible.
They should always be proposed by consortia involving at least two entities from two different Member States. Please check the list of co-funded MoS projects on this website in order to avoid submission of similar pilot projects.
Are the MoS projects allowed to combine works and studies actions under the same application?
A proposal must address either works or studies, within the meaning of Article 2(8) and (9) of the TEN Regulation, unless it is clearly demonstrated that the undertaking of the works is not dependent on the execution and/or conclusion of the study(ies). If this is the case, the combination is allowed in the same submission.
Is acquisition of land or ship an eligible cost under the TEN-T Programme?
No, the TEN-T Programme does not allow co-financing purchases of land or ships. However, the TEN-T Programme may co-fund infrastructure adjustments of ship construction if they are strictly related to an upgrade or establishment of a new MoS link. For more information about requirements for such implementation projects see the section of our website related to TEN-T support for MoS actions.
Is a cost of acquiring, constructing or readjusting of a LNG bunkering barge eligible?
Yes, as stipulated in the work programme, costs related to introduction of a LNG bunkering barge are eligible for co-funding within the MoS Programme. Normally, the co-funding rate will not exceed 20%. The barge is considered as part of port infrastructure and should therefore offer services on non-discriminatory grounds. Moreover, the services should remain publicly accessible. The co-financed bunkering barge will be required to remain and provide the customary services in the EU ports for a period of 5 years, otherwise the Commission may recover the allocated support.
Is co-funding of an LNG tanker (LNG carrier) an eligible cost?
No, the intention of the MoS Programme is to contribute to development of LNG bunkering facilities for ships and not to transportation of gas over longer distances. It is therefore not possible to request co-funding for LNG tankers and thereto related operations. However, within a MoS maritime link project, either some adjustments enabling a vessel to meet better the specific needs of the link or start up aid, could be eligible.
Is a conversion of a vessel propulsion to the LNG fuel (or other SOx or NOx free fuels or technologies) considered as an eligible cost in the MoS Programme?
This kind of investment could be considered as eligible under certain conditions:
- The ship will be part of an upgraded or a new MoS link established between two ports in two different countries on an intermodal corridor, or
- The ship intends to pilot and validate some new technological solutions which have not been tested before on any other ships in Europe. The piloting actions cannot be repetitive.
The ship receiving TEN-T grant will be required to provide services between the EU ports for a period of 5 years, otherwise the Commission may recover the allocated support. The TEN-T programme does not support the conversion of a fleet of vessels.
Is co-funding of an LNG storage terminal possible within the MoS Programme?
The Programme will co-fund investments related to development of LNG bunkering facilities for ships and possibly in combination with other means of transport (inland navigation vessels and trucks). If the storage terminal will therefore serve this purpose, it can be considered as an entirely or partially eligible cost depending on the gas capacity which will be used for provisioning ships. It is, however, not possible to co-fund a terminal or thereto related investments if they serve mainly the gas import operations and further gas transfer to the national gas transmission systems (security of supply), as that is under the remit of TEN-E. In general, it would be recommended to apply within the MoS Programme for the LNG investments which would strictly serve bunkering ships and/or connect the main gas terminal with a bunkering station.
Is co-financing of an ice-breaker an eligible TEN-T cost?
Yes, acquiring an ice-breaker could be considered as an eligible costs, provided it will serve MoS links either within a defined wider benefit action (e.g. icebreaking in a specified geographical region) or as part of MoS intermodal link involving at least two ports and a maritime operator. Normally, the co-funding rate will not exceed 20%. The services provided by a co-financed ice-breaker should be publicly accessible and offered on non-discriminatory basis to all Member States of that region based on a bi/multilateral agreement.