We asked Ann Phelan, who was attending the first fi-compass conference on FIs under the EAFRD, what she thought of the opportunities that Financial Instruments could create for rural areas in Ireland. Ms Phelan was extremely excited about the different ways FIs could benefit people and especially rural communities. She thought the video was very useful in translating the potential impact of FIs on a variety of sometimes-related recipients of support.
Ms Phelan emphasized the difficulty for some communities to understand the principles and the functioning of FIs, and she suggested the creation of a starter kit for rural communities who need accessible pathways to funding and co-financing. These communities will need to understand the criteria; for example, do they need to reach a certain capacity to be eligible?
There is a lot of excitement at this stage of the programme, and Ms Phelan is convinced that Ireland can benefit from FIs. Such tools could have a very important role in supporting rural and social cohesion as Ireland wants to continue to offer its people vibrant rural areas. Ms Phelan was among several Irish representatives who were all keen to work with the European Commission and the EIB to make this happen. According to her, initiatives to reinforce the uptake of Financial Instruments under the EAFRD could be a source of a societal change that would, in turn, improve rural areas.
Her conclusion was that the European Commission, the EIB and Managing Authorities need to ensure that community networks know where to find support and information.