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Abstract

This conference concluded a series of fi-compass regional seminars profiling financial instruments delivering the European Social Fund (ESF). The previous ESF regional seminars took place in Paris, Rome, and Warsaw between September and November 2015. Participants during the fi-compass ESF events have had the opportunity to further their understanding of how ESF financial instruments can help in their efforts to deliver ESIF 2014-2020 objectives.

The purpose of this ESF conference in Brussels was to:

  • Outline the major EU social policy objectives in relation to use and implementation of financial instruments under the ESF;
  • Stimulate exchange and discussion on examples, advantages, features and suitability of financial instruments in delivering ESF 2014-2020 objectives among managing authorities and social policy stakeholders;
  • Present the regulatory framework and key novelties of the financial instruments and the fi-compass support available;
  • Provide the opportunity for in-depth discussions on the technical challenges that Member States and managing authorities are facing at the moment in regard to the design and set up of financial instruments; and
  • Inspire new concepts for financial instruments by reviewing the latest developments in the area of social investment.

The final agenda

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Event Video

Financial Instruments under the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 Brussels, 2 February 2016

Picture: Andriana Sukova-Tosheva, Director, DG EMPL, European Commission

On 2 February 2016, fi-compass organised a high level conference on financial instruments under the ESF. This flagship event was attended by over 180 people including policy makers, managing authorities and audit bodies, as well as delegates from the banking and consultancy sectors.

Speaking at the launch of the conference, Andriana Sukova-Tosheva, Director at DG EMPL, European Commission, underlined the importance of addressing the needs of vulnerable people. Given the current levels of unemployment throughout Europe and the difficult socio-economic situation, she urged managing authorities to make use of fi-compass resources in order to better understand and plan financial instruments for ESF target groups.

Picture: Stefan De Keersmaecker, DG EMPL, European Commission; Ann Branch, DG EMPL, European Commission; Per-Erik Eriksson, European Investment Fund; Cyril Gouiffes, European Investment Fund; David Gonzalez Martin, European Investment Fund;

Andrea Da Pozzo from DG EMPL, European Commission, explained the opportunities for financial instruments offered by the ESF framework in the 2014-2020 programming period. He went on to clarify the new legislative framework and its wider scope, as well as the Common Provisions Regulation. Mr Da Pozzo addressed the current use of ESF financial instruments in terms of allocation and final beneficiaries. He also presented the potential use of financial instruments and available budget under the various thematic objectives.

Picture: Event participants

The rest of the morning’s session were equally well-received and these featured cases from Lithuania, Italy and Portugal. Rūta Dapkutė-Stankevičienė, representing the Ministry of Finance in Lithuania, shared their experience of setting up the Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund. This is an ESF financial instrument that is dedicated to promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship. The case gave other ESF managing authorities useful insights into the different aspects of this ESF instrument’s implementation, its results in terms of leverage, job creation and future potential. To elaborate on experiences with other ESF financial instruments, case studies from Italy and Portugal were also presented. A fruitful exchange was possible during the morning panel session and it gave managing authorities the opportunity to ask their peers many questions.

The first of the conference’s afternoon sessions focused on social impact investment. Jader Cané from DG EMPL, European Commission, explained the concept of social impact investment and its correlation with the ESF. Karen Wilson, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Mario Calderini, from Politecnico di Milano in Italy, then presented reports and initial data on the use of impact investments.

A second afternoon panel focused on financial instruments available at the EU level. Ann Branch from DG EMPL, European Commission, and Per-Erik Eriksson from the European Investment Fund (EIF), presented the EaSI instrument. Cyril Gouiffes then described the EIF’s Social Impact Accelerator and his colleague David Gonzalez Martin explained the functioning of the ERASMUS Master Student Loan Guarantee Facility.

Feedback from participants indicated that this was a very successful event, both in terms of interaction and attendance. All speakers agreed that the potential is high for implementing financial instruments under the ESF.

In wrapping-up the conference, Andriana Sukova-Tosheva concluded with encouragement for managing authorities to make a success of existing ESF instruments, because this would help provide a beneficial foundation for future ESF financial instruments to build upon.

Financial Instruments under the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 Brussels, 2 February 2016

Title Speakers
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Introduction

Cathy Smith, moderator

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Welcome and opening remarks

Andriana Sukova-Tosheva, Director, DG EMPL, European Commission

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Opportunities offered by the ESF framework 2014-2020 – State of play

Andrea Da Pozzo, DG EMPL, European Commission

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Financial instruments at work – Experiences from the ground

Salvatore Pirrone, Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, Italy

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Financial instruments at work – Experiences from the ground

Rūta Dapkutė-Stankevičienė, Ministry of Finance, Lithuania

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Financial instruments at work – Experiences from the ground

Carla Pedro, Portugal Social Innovation

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Financial instruments at work – Experiences from the ground

Alessandro Valenza, fi-compass expert

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Social impact investments in Europe in the ESF framework

Jader Cané, DG EMPL, European Commission

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Social impact investments in Europe in the ESF framework

Karen Wilson, OECD

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Social impact investments in Europe in the ESF framework

Mario Calderini, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

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Social impact investments in Europe in the ESF framework

Alessandro Valenza, fi-compass expert

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Other opportunities for EU financial instruments

Stefan De Keersmaecker, DG EMPL, European Commission

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Other opportunities for EU financial instruments

Ann Branch, DG EMPL, European Commission

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Other opportunities for EU financial instruments

Per-Erik Eriksson, European Investment Fund

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Other opportunities for EU financial instruments

Cyril Gouiffes, European Investment Fund

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Other opportunities for EU financial instruments

David Gonzalez Martin, European Investment Fund

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Closing remarks

Andriana Sukova-Tosheva, Director, DG EMPL, European Commission