Financial instruments under the ESF and EFSI, including microfinance – European and Italian perspectives, Rome, 1 December 2016
The European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) can be combined in the implementation of financial instruments, including microfinance, and this was the focus of a fi-compass seminar held on 1 December in Rome.
Experts from the Italian Ministry of Labour and the NUVAP (Dipartimento Politiche di Coesione, Presidenza del Consiglio), as well as the European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), the European Investment Bank Group (EIB Group), and microfinance providers represented through the Rete Italiana Microfinanza (RITMI) and the European Microfinance Network (EMN) as microfinance networks shared their experience through presentations and discussion sessions. The use of microfinance instruments was extensively explored during the event.
This fi-compass seminar included over 80 delegates representing the majority of Italian ESF managing authorities, regional and national authorities, as well as financial intermediaries, many of which specialised in microfinance.
Jader Cané from the European Commission Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, welcomed participants to this seminar. Bruno Robino, Head of fi-compass, moderated the event, encouraging dialogue and exchanges of experience between participants and speakers.
In the morning session, Martina Rosato from the Italian Ministry of Labour illustrated the state of play and the perspectives in the near future for financial instruments supported by ESF in Italy. She highlighted the importance of the ex-ante assessment, as a market and feasibility study to enhance evidence based decision making about launching ESF financial instruments. She also described existing projects, including some that combined ESF and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) financial contributions.
Subsequently, speakers from the EIB Group illustrated common success factors for financial instruments as well as options offered by the EIB Group for ESF managing authorities. They also explained how investments are selected for support from the EFSI, and the way such financing can be combined with the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and in particular the ESF. This was of great interest and it prompted engaging questions from the audience.
The session was concluded by Luca Galassi from the Sardinia region, who explained the successful implementation of financial instruments under the ESF in his region.
In the afternoon, an expert panel of Giampietro Pizzo, President of RITMI, the microfinance networks, Jorge Ramirez Puerto, General Manager of EMN and Corrado Ferretti, President of PerMicro, presented an useful overview of the private and public microfinance initiatives in Italy, as well as across Europe.
Following this, Salvatore Vescina from the governmental organisation Agenzia per la Coesione Territoriale (the Italian Agency for Territorial Cohesion) presented a set of optional performance and impact indicators to measure the results of microfinance instruments.
Marianna D’Angelo from the Italian Ministry of Labour, managing authority of the ESF National Operational Programmes 'Iniziativa Occupazione Giovani e Sistemi di Politiche Attive per l’Occupazione' (Young People’s Work Initiative and Active Procedures for Work) concluded this successful seminar with an invitation to the audience to continue working proactively to boost the success of ESF programmes.