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Brexit questions loom as EU opens latest €750m energy round

'Projects of common interest' eligible for Connecting Europe Facility currently includes big UK power links

The EU has opened the latest €750m ($852m) round of its Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), as a 'no deal' question mark hangs over the post-Brexit status of major UK power link projects currently eligible for the funding scheme.

The CEF offers tranches of support every two years from a €5.35bn total pot for initiatives deemed “projects of common interest” (PCI) that benefit at least two EU nations.

Many of the largest PCI on the existing list to receive CEF funding are power links, including a clutch of big UK to mainland Europe power links such as the 1.4GW Viking link from eastern England to Denmark and the same-sized FAB connection with France.

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With Britain in theory set to leave the EU a week on Friday with no Brexit deal – although Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday asked Brussels for a three-month delay – the CEF is among a host of energy-related issues that would face an uncertain resolution in relation to the UK.

Ian Graves, European business development director at National Grid, told a House of Lords inquiry into the impact of Brexit on energy policy that the UK network operator had used the CEF “very successfully, with our partners, to do some of the initial seabed surveys and exploratory engineering work on our interconnectors. It's a vital part of our development of a project”.

The UK government said in last 2018 that it would honour funding already authorised to British entities by the CEF in the event of a no-deal Brexit, while some commentators expect projects could pass the “two nation test” even if the UK were not an EU member, given their wider benefits to the bloc.

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