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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

In December 2020, 22 EU countries and Norway signed a manifesto paving the way for a cleaner hydrogen value chain and committing to launch ‘important projects of common European interest’ (IPCEIs) in the hydrogen sector.

The signatories committed to jointly design, and eventually launch, IPCEIs and agreed that projects should cover the full value chain — from renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production to hydrogen storage, transmission and distribution, and hydrogen application notably in industrial sectors.

Many participating countries have now completed the national pre-selection of projects that may receive state aid from these countries to be cleared by the European Commission under the IPCEI Communication (see below).

The next step will be the notification to the Commission of integrated IPCEI projects with a common structure, roadmap and programme. These will then be assessed by the Commission.

Read more: Manifesto for a European 'Hydrogen Technologies and Systems' value chain (on the website of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy)

What are IPCEIs?

IPCEIs are large projects that address a market failure or other important systemic failures in a European context based on common European interests.

They must, in particular

  • significantly contribute to strategic EU objectives
  • involve several EU countries
  • involve private financing by the beneficiaries
  • generate positive spillover effects across the EU

In the case of innovation projects, they must be of a major innovative nature, going beyond the state of the art in the sector concerned. IPCEIs can involve public support to projects in the areas of R&D, first industrial deployment or infrastructure of common European interest.

'First industrial deployment' is defined as the upscaling of pilot facilities, or first-in-kind equipment and facilities, which cover the steps subsequent to the pilot line, including the testing phase but excluding mass production and commercial activities.

The Commission Communication on IPCEIs sets out the relevant eligibility and compatibility criteria.