The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) - consisting of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund (CF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) - can be used to support development in a comprehensive way by investing for instance in businesses, research and development, infrastructure, employment and training, agriculture, forestry and fisheries development, with the overall objective to improve the quality of life of EU citizens.

Member States and regions can use financial instruments as an efficient and sustainable way of providing support targeted at the priorities of a programme co-funded by ESIF. Financial instruments are suitable for financially viable projects, i.e. those which are expected to generate enough income or savings to pay back the support received.

fi-compass Multi-Region Assistance (MRA) will provide EU funding to co-operation projects of at least two managing authorities from different EU Member States which aim at assessing the possible use of ESIF financial instruments in specific thematic areas of common interest.

On the basis of call for proposals to be launched by the European Commission, MRA is meant to be initiated by managing authorities from two regions in different Member States.  Supported activities will relate to the assessment of possible use of financial instruments (FIs) targeting investment priorities that are shared by the regions. The aim is to facilitate a broader use of FIs both in terms of ESIF funding to be invested and their geographical or thematic scope, as well as to incentivise cooperation between regions from different Member States, exchange of practices and mutual learning.