Marco Polo programme
How can Marco Polo provide financial support to Motorways of the Sea projects?
What is the Marco Polo II programme?
Maritime transport is a key feature of Marco Polo, the European Union's funding programme for projects which shift freight from the road to sea, rail and inland waterways. This means fewer trucks on the road and thus less congestion, less pollution, and more reliable and efficient transport of goods.
Now in its second edition, Marco Polo runs from 2007 to 2013 and has an annual budget of around €60 million.
Marco Polo supports projects that propose concrete transport services on an international route and covers five key actions:
- “modal shift”
- "Motorways of the Sea"
- "traffic avoidance"
- "common learning"
How can your Motorways of the Seas project participate in Marco Polo?
If you have a concrete idea for a new Motorway of the Seas transport service, there are three ways of applying for Marco Polo funding:
1. Submit a project proposal for a 'Motorways of the Sea' action. Projects in this action type should provide a door-to-door service, shifting freight from long road distances to a combination of short sea shipping and other modes of transport. To be eligible, your project should shift an average of 200 million tkm per year or more. The funding period ranges from a minimum of 36 months to maximum of 60 months. Only projects relating to 'category A' ports (i.e. ports with a total annual traffic volume of not less than 1.5 million tonnes of freight or 200,000 passengers) qualify for this action type.
2. Submit a project proposal for a 'Modal shift' action. These projects focus on shifting as much freight as economically meaningful under current market conditions from road to short sea shipping, rail and inland waterways. Your project should shift an average of 60 million tkm per year or more. Funding can cover up to a maximum of 36 months.
3. Submit a project proposal for a 'Catalyst' action. Projects in this action type should propose a highly innovative concept, capable of overcoming structural market barriers in European freight transport and causing a real breakthrough. To be eligible, your project should shift an average of 30 million tkm per year or more. The funding period ranges from a minimum of 36 months to a maximum of 60 months.
For all action types it is important that the new proposed service will not lead to an undue distortion of competition. Only projects concerning freight transport services can be supported by the Marco Polo programme. Mixed passenger-freight services and RoRo ferries services may also be proposed, but financial support would only cover the freight part in those cases.
Political priority for Short Sea Shipping (SSS) - based projects which implement innovative technologies or operational practices which significantly reduce polluting emissions of maritime transport
Positively evaluated SSS–based proposals presented with the objective of using services which implement innovative technologies which significantly reduce polluting or/and CO2 emissions of maritime transport have a political priority.
These technologies can be:
i) the use of low sulphur fuels (priority will be given to those projects which will implement fuel with lower percentage of sulphur content than the one legally binding at the moment of the submission of the proposal and during the implementation of the action, and no more than 0,1% for the SECAs and 0,5% for other areas);
ii) the use of the emissions abatement measures, such as: the LNG powered vessels, vessels operating scrubber technologies for the cleaning of exhaust emissions or vessels using shore side electricity,
These projects will have a preference over the rest of successful proposals for up to 20% of the available budget for the call 2012.
How can you apply for Marco Polo funding?
Applicants submit their requests for funding in response to a call for proposals issued by the European Commission at the beginning of each year. Calls are published on the Marco Polo website and referenced in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
To be eligible, projects should involve commercial undertakings, whether private or publicly-owned, from any of the 27 EU countries plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Croatia. Companies from other "close third countries" can join a project consortium but the Marco Polo grant will not cover project costs incurred by the "close third countries" or arising in their territory.
To qualify, projects must be commercially viable, at the latest by the time the Marco Polo grant ends. Applicants must submit a credible business plan. They must also demonstrate their consortium’s financial viability and its relevant technical capacities.
How will the amount of funding be determined?
For the action types 'Motorways of the Sea', 'Modal shift' and Catalyst', the amount of funding will be calculated on the basis of €2 per each 500 tkm shifted. Only the volume effectively shifted off the roads will be taken into account, and the final amount shall not exceed 35% of the total eligible costs of the project. Only the losses can be covered by a Marco Polo grant - profit-making projects cannot be financed.
Marco Polo II finances transport services, with only a very limited possibility to finance costs for ancillary infrastructure (up to 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".
Where can you find further information?
Marco Polo is managed by the European Commission’s Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport. More information can be found on the Marco Polo website.
Download the Marco Polo brochure:
.pdf (7.5 MB)
In case you have any questions on the Marco Polo programme as a whole, please contact the Marco Polo Helpdesk:
Phone:+32 (0)2 295 0924