Macro-regional conference on EAFRD financial instruments for agriculture and rural development in 2014-2020, Warsaw, 24 October 2016
Picture: Luca Lazzaroli, Director-General, European Investment Bank; Ryszard Zarudzki, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Poland; Jerzy Plewa, Director-General, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission; Hubert Cottogni, Deputy Director, European Investment Fund
The macro-regional conference on EAFRD financial instruments for agriculture and rural development was held the 24 October 2016 in Warsaw. It covered the financing of the EU agricultural sector supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) from a variety of perspectives and from a wide range of speakers.
Director-General Jerzy Plewa brought the policy perspective from Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) highlighting how financial instruments can provide additional growth and jobs in this field, as well as enhance resource efficiency and foster environment and climate actions. Mr Plewa also underlined the need to turn EU agriculture and agro-food into leading sectors of the Union’s rural economy and how access to finance is key to unleashing farmers’ investment potential and their contributions to growth and jobs.
Dr Ryszard Zarudzki, Undersecretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, presented the state of play of agriculture and rural development in Poland, where 16% of the labour force works in these sectors.
Luca Lazzaroli, Director-General of the European Investment Bank, and Hubert Cottogni, Deputy Director of the European Investment Fund, reinforced the commitment of the European Investment Bank Group to support and advise on the implementation of financial instruments in the agriculture value chain.
A specific session about the banking sector and the financing of Polish agriculture and rural development was organised with the support of the Polish Bank Association. The Association was represented by Arkadiusz Lewicki, Director of Public Programmes and Economic Entities. Maciej Majewski from BGŻ BNP Paribas S.A. and Hanna Gilicińska-Cieślak from SGB Bank S.A. were speakers on the same panel. They all presented the ways they support agriculture and rural development, highlighting the opportunities and challenges.
Picture: Cathy Smith, moderator; Hanna Gilicińska-Cieślak, Expert, Banking Products and Procedure Department, SME and Agro Enterprise Office, SGB Bank S.A.; Arkadiusz Lewicki, Director of Department of Public Programmes and Economic Entities, Polish Bank Association (ZBP); Maciej Majewski, Director of the Department for Public Programmes and Innovation, BGŻ BNP Paribas Polska S.A.
Farm associations contributed actively to the event, representing the opinions of farmers about the use of financial instruments, including the current investment challenges faced by agri-businesses. The panellists were Pekka Pesonen, Secretary-General of COPA-COGECA, Mirosław Borowski, Vice-President of the National Council of Agricultural Chambers, and Jerzy Wierzbicki, President of the Polish Beef Association.
Additional technical perspectives were provided by Nivelin Noev, Policy Expert at Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development. Mr Noev presented an overview of the implementation of EAFRD financial instruments in different EU Member States and future additional simplification measures. fi-compass expert Bernd Schuh gave practical insights on how to prepare a robust ex-ante assessment and presented the Handbook on the ex-ante assessment for financial instruments under the EAFRD, which was recently issued by fi-compass. Bruno Robino, Head of fi-compass, explained to participants how the fi-compass platform provides support and advice on financial instruments. This involves many awareness-raising events and publications on financial instruments, the ‘targeted coaching’ advisory service for EAFRD managing authorities was highlighted as a very successful tool.
Picture: Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General COPA – COGECA; Jerzy Wierzbicki, President of the Polish Beef Association; Mirosław Borowski, Vice-President of National Council of Agricultural Chambers (KRIR).
Three case studies featuring financial instruments using other European Structural and Investment Funds were presented at the event. Grzegorz Czerniawski, from Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK), highlighted financial engineering for the social economy, an example of the use of a financial instrument under the Polish European Social Fund Operational Programme 2007-2013. Alex Conway, from the Greater London Authority, and Györgyi Nyikos, from MFB Hungarian Development Bank, contributed with their experience of financial instruments using the European Regional Development Fund.
Graham Cope, Senior Head of Region – Northern & Western Europe, at the European Investment Fund, explained the SME initiative, its structure as well as its advantages and potential benefits for final recipients.
Guido Castellano, Deputy Head of Unit at DG AGRI, summarised the main messages from the day and closed the conference.
The series of fi-compass events dedicated to EAFRD financial instruments continue in Brussels on 25 November with the flagship conference ‘EAFRD financial instruments for agriculture and rural development in 2014-2020’. Managing authorities and financial intermediaries from all EU Member States, as well as all other stakeholders interested in EAFRD financial instruments, can register online for this conference.