Picture: Mihail Dumitru, Deputy Director-General, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission
The potential for financial instruments to provide a major boost to future investment in the EU agricultural sector was highlighted by a range of speakers at a fi-compass macro-regional seminar in Madrid on 31 May. Around 100 participants from more than 10 Member States took part in lively exchanges on the use of financial instruments supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), such as loans and guarantees, for agriculture and rural businesses.
Opening the event, Mihail Dumitru, Deputy Director-General at the European Commission’s DG Agriculture and Rural Development, told the audience, "We need to offer all our stakeholders a full range of support under the Rural Development Programmes, including improved access to funding. I believe that an intelligent and strategic mix of financial instruments can not only deliver funding where it is needed, notably by attracting additional private capital, but also help to reduce budget pressures. Financial instruments can be tailored to farmers' needs and I think that existing models and EU Rural Development funding rules provide sufficient flexibility to adapt projects to specific needs."
Picture: Begoña Nieto Gilarte, Director General of Rural Development and Forestry Policy, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Spain
His views were echoed by Begoña Nieto Gilarte and Antonio Flores Lorenzo from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, outlining the Spanish approach towards financial instruments. The farmers’ views were expressed by Sofia Björnsson, Chairwoman of the COPA - COGECA Working Party on Rural Development and Tomás Rojas Pacheco, Financial Director of the Spanish farm unions.
Picture: Event participants
The seminar, which also showcased examples from Estonia, Hungary and Romania, gathered experts from the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund and the European Commission, who also contributed to the discussions. The Madrid seminar furthermore provided insight e.g. in the state of play of EAFRD financial instruments and their novelties compared to the past, as elaborated by Nivelin Noev and Gregorio Davila Diaz from the European Commission's DG Agriculture and Rural Development.
New opportunities are numerous and include an increased scope of financial instruments, updated renewable energy requirements, a greater choice of Fund managers and financial instrument structures, as well as the possibility to combine EAFRD financial instruments with other means like the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
The Madrid conference followed similar events, which took place last year in Dublin, Vienna and Riga, where more than 450 participants gathered and shared their experience and knowledge. It will be followed by another macro-regional event in Rome on 13 June 2016, as well as the second European conference on financial instruments under the EAFRD, which will take place in Brussels on 25 November 2016.
Video recordings featuring all of the presentations from the Madrid seminar are available on the fi-compass website.