Implementing financial instruments requires specific knowledge. With the support of fi-compass, managing authorities of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and rural development stakeholders have a possibility to establish the necessary foundations for any future activity in this policy area.
Targeted coaching for EAFRD managing authorities
EAFRD managing authorities continue to benefit from the fi-compass 'Targeted coaching' advisory service, which was specifically designed for them at the end of 2015 and successfully launched together with the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) in January 2016.
Six individual cases were finalised during 2016, and two further cases completed in early 2017. These coaching sessions assisted Bulgaria, regions of United Kingdom, Italian regions and Croatia. Eight other cases are now advancing among which are managing authorities from Slovenia, Spain's Basque Country, Italy's Emilia Romagna and Sicily regions, as well as Latvia, Greece, and French regions.
Coaching for EAFRD managing authorities has been provided through specific targeted advisory sessions involving a variety of experts from the managing authorities, experts from fi-compass and DG AGRI. Managing authorities tend also to invite experts from their technical assistance providers or financial experts from local institutions that have worked for them.
During the meetings, fi-compass advisers and DG AGRI experts provide answers to a large number of questions that differ in content, scope, and characteristics. These can include basic queries such as: “Why opt for financial instruments and how can financial instruments help in boosting investments?“ More complex questions have included technicalities concerning specific types of instruments. All this advice is tailored to the particular interests of each managing authority.
Given the success of this EAFRD fi-compass initiative, which can be seen also from the positive post-coaching reactions by managing authorities, the fi-compass team, through DG AGRI, decided to expand the service and make it available for an increased number of Member States and regions. The coaching has triggered follow-up actions related to the roll out of financial instruments, which is a success.
Progress with EAFRD studies
fi-compass is carrying out a study assessing the feasibility of the investment platform launched in November 2016 by Commissioner Hogan and the EIB Groups' Presidency. This platform proposes a combination of EAFRD resources with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) into a single financial instrument and interested managing authorities may join the platform.
Another fi-compass study which is nearing completion is analysing the state of play with EAFRD financial instruments' programming by focusing mostly on the ex-ante assessment process. This study is expected to also provide feedback on possible bottlenecks in the implementation process, giving valuable information on potential further development of the fi-compass advisory services.
A third, also near-complete study, has been exploring the feasibility and possible interest of stakeholders in a potential EAFRD financial instrument providing flexible loans, adjustable according to price conditions. This study concentrated on the milk sector in the European Union, analysing existing experience in Ireland. The objective is to extend the analysis to other agricultural sectors and other countries exposed to price volatility in a second phase of the study, which would be performed in the second half of 2017.
A new EAFRD study was also recently launched by fi-compass on equity investments and venture capital in agriculture. This is a complex research area that will pioneer new know-how for EAFRD managing authorities and the study's outcomes are planned for 2018.
The overview video from the Annual fi-compass conference on financial instruments for agriculture and rural development is available here