The first two in a series of three identical fi-compass seminars took place on 27 May in Brussels and 2 June in Vienna. The aim of these seminars is to help participants understand how financial instruments can support ESIF 2014-2020 objectives, in particular under the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund.
Picture: Rudolf Niessler, Director, DG Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission
The Brussels seminar opened with a statement by Rudolf Niessler, Director, DG Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission, on the rationale for using financial instruments to mobilise private investments towards the public good. Then Björn Gabriel, Head of fi-compass Advisory Services, European Investment Bank, explained that fi-compass is to serve as a catalyst and help set things in motion. He emphasised that orientation and guidance were available in the form of manuals, learning material, case studies, templates, events, etc.
Several good practice examples were presented at the seminars. Speakers from Wales, Sardinia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Berlin and England described financial instrument solutions developed in various regions and presented the results achieved in the previous programming period and the action plans they are developing for the next period. Resources such as ex-ante assessment guidance and a methodology toolbox were of particular interest to participants in learning how to design and deliver the right financial instrument or combination of instruments for each situation.
The European Commission explained that due to numerous requests for clarification of certain regulatory provisions, the EC was issuing guidance on specific topics. The Commission presented the already published guidance on ex-ante assessment and working capital, and also gave an outlook on guidance concerning phased payments and combining financial instruments with other forms of assistance, both under discussion with Member States.
Picture: Rona Michie, University of Strathclyde and Marco Naseddu, Secretary of the Investment Board of the JESSICA HF in Sardinia
These seminars are a good way to exchange ideas on what is valuable, providing opportunities for managing authorities to discuss what works for them and what they need so as to move forward with financial instruments. According to most of the participants surveyed during the Brussels seminar, fi-compass can only be enhanced by the regular face-to-face interactions between professionals and peers. Equally, if fi-compass continues to initiate these interactions, be they off-line or on-line, it will enable all stakeholders to move forward with more confidence, knowing that they are able to learn from best practices but also from others’ past mistakes.
Picture : Workshop no 1: Regulatory framework and EC guidance
Crucially, fi-compass will be growing, with additional cases to be published, more guides and tools including videos, events and training. Already watch out for the next seminar in Warsaw on 9 June 2015 and the first European fi-compass Conference on Financial Instruments under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to take place in Dublin on 23-24 June 2015.