EU launches more flexible third call for truck parking funding

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The European Commission has launched a more flexible funding call for safe and secure parking across the EU, enlarging the geographical scope, as advocated for by IRU.

Similarly to the two previous calls for funding, the European Commission has made EUR 250 million available for safe and secure mobility projects.

The funding covers the development of new safe and secure parking areas, upgrading existing ones, and efforts to enhance the dissemination of parking information, including the availability, location and pricing of parking areas.

The requirements foresee that new safe and secure truck parking areas (SSTPAs) built with Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding comply with EU standards adopted in April 2022.

The EU standards set out the minimum level of service which SSTPAs need to offer to professional drivers. This includes gender-friendly sanitary facilities, food and beverage services, internet availability, power supply, and the presence of emergency contact points and procedures. IRU helped develop the EU standards through its contribution to a 2019 study and participation in the European Commission’s Expert Group on SSTPAs.

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “We welcome the announcement of additional EU funds for our sector. Policymakers listened to us and enlarged the scope of the funding to cover the comprehensive network.”

“We will see if additional funding will be allocated under the Connecting Europe Facility. We sincerely hope that it will be the case after this third call,” she added.

According to the 2019 study, there are 300,000 truck parking spaces available in the EU, with a significant shortfall of 100,000 spaces to meet total demand. Only 7,000 spots, or less than 3% of existing parking places in the EU, are in certified safe and secure areas.

New solutions, such as the revision of private co-funding requirements, are needed to attract successful projects. Depending on the location of the parking areas, the amount of private co-funding varies, making the application less attractive for many players.

This time around, applicants interested in developing a specific project on the comprehensive network of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) can submit their application. IRU had previously called on EU policymakers to consider enlarging the geographical scope.

EU policymakers involved in the ongoing revision of the TEN-T regulation – setting requirements for Member States to establish SSTPAs on the entire TEN-T network – will also need to consider this novelty as the deadlines proposed by the European Commission’s proposal are not sufficiently ambitious. IRU has called on Member States to consider the TEN-T regulation as a facilitation tool for the deployment of SSTPAs.

“Several projects benefitted from EU funding in 2021 and 2022. However, while the projects related to safe and secure parking areas were funded in the double digits in 2021, the absorption of funds was not satisfactory in 2022. The situation continues to be critical and there remains a significant shortfall of parking spaces across Europe,” highlighted Raluca Marian.

The European Commission is working on updating its 2019 study. While this is something that IRU has advocated for, the budget allocated for the study is very low. IRU will monitor the results, which are expected to come out next year.

A virtual information day on the 2023 CEF funding call will be held on 10 October 2023. The application deadline for funding is 30 January 2024.

IRU will continue to work closely with all public and private actors to promote the building, and upgrading, of SSTPAs across Europe.