With plans of developing a Europe-wide network of railway lines, road, inland waterways, and maritime shipping routes, ports, airports, and railroad terminals, the TEN-T policy hopes to close gaps, remove bottle necks, and technical barriers.

In October (2022), the European Parliament voted to retain an ambition set by the Parliament’s transport committee in the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), of seeing a maximum distance of 100km between each hydrogen refuelling station along both the core and comprehensive TEN-T networks.

Read more: European Parliament sends strong signal that clean hydrogen mobility is ‘viable solution to fossil fuels’

However, under the freshly agreed Approach, mentions of the AFIR have been removed from provisions regarding air transport (art.32), rail transport (arts.15&16), network priorities (art.12), road (art.28), and inland water (art.20).

In a statement Hydrogen Europe said that while the text of the TEN-T General Approach demonstrates a desire to include alternative fuels, including hydrogen, it said, “The visible striking out of legal references to the AFIR from the text is concerning to Hydrogen Europe.”

Hydrogen Europe has called upon European legislators to, “ensure that the European funding available to TEN-T projects, such as the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Facility (CEF2/AFIF), are not withheld from future projects that will arise from AFIR as a result of these new omissions.”

Darko Levičar, Director for Mobility at Hydrogen Europe, said: “We are concerned to see the removal of references to AFIR in the general approach. General priorities for the network should include explicit reference that deployment is to happen according to rules set out within the AFIR text, notably in art. 6, 11 and 12a for the deployment of hydrogen refuelling stations.”

“We will continue to work with policymakers and stakeholders to achieve the best possible regulatory framework in which industry can operate,” Levičar added.

Aside from its concerns over the AFIR, the European association has said it welcomes the enlargement of conditions for maritime ports to be identified on the comprehensive TEN-T network, which opens up the possibility for ports below the one million tonnes cargo volume criteria.

It said the move, “recognises the substantial role of smaller ports in the deployment of renewable energy and allows for their future development by granting them eligibility for funding under the CEF Transport instrument. As ports are foreseen to become hubs for green hydrogen imports and distribution, Hydrogen Europe supports this amendment and calls on the Parliament to endorse it.”