Last month, the European Commission (DG AGRI) and the EIB organised a joint high-level conference on the co-operation between the two institutions in the fields of agriculture and rural development. The event which took place in Brussels launched the implementation of the work programme under the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by the two institutions in July 2014(footnote: see Statement 14/225).
The conference was attended by representatives from Member States, managing authorities as well as the Civil Dialogue Group for rural development. It was opened by Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan who stressed on the importance of financial instruments (FIs) as a delivery tool of rural development support. Commissioner Hogan also emphasised the need for easing access to funding for farmers, agri-food processors and rural businesses and urged Member States to use FI in areas where additional funding is needed. Financial Instruments, said the Commissioner, as well as funding from the EIB, can help farmers invest and develop their businesses which could be particularly relevant for farmers facing market shifts or restructuring issues (e.g. in the dairy sector).
EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer outlined the rationale behind the EIB's financing for agriculture and rural businesses, as well as the opportunities that exist in relation to European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the management of FIs by the EIB Group. He confirmed the EIB Group's readiness to support the implementation of the EU rural development policy. During his intervention, Deputy Director General Mihail Dumitru presented the work programme under the Memorandum of Understanding and outlined the challenges ahead in the context of FIs under the EAFRD. His intervention was followed by presentations from the EIB, including on the EAFRD part of fi-compass, the technical assistance platform for FIs in 2014-2020. The discussions were enriched by questions and answers in panel discussions with Commissioner Hogan, EIB Vice President Molterer, Director-General Plewa and Deputy Director General Dumitru.
The conference materials as well as the video recording from it are available at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/events/ec-eib-03-2015_en.htm