The first of a new type of fi-compass event, ‘the fi-compass Knowledge Hub’, took place on 19 June 2019. This initial pilot event was held in Brussels on the subject of ‘State aid and financial instruments to support SME competitiveness and energy efficiency’.
The event gathered 14 participants from managing authorities, national promotional banks and other stakeholders to meet with representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP), the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) and the fi-compass team. The Knowledge Hub was developed in response to feedback from stakeholders in the fi-compass mid-term survey in 2018. This highlighted a demand for opportunities for expert practitioners to consider in greater depth specific topics that affect the implementation of financial instruments.
A number of issues were discussed, many of which had been highlighted as challenges in the fi-compass State aid survey in 2018. One of the topics that was considered in some depth was how to ensure the pass on of aid to final recipients to demonstrate there is no aid at the level of financial intermediary. Other topics included how to establish the ‘market rate’ for de-minimis calculations, using the reference rate or otherwise, and when an undertaking can be considered not to influence trade between Member States and thus fall outside the scope of State aid.
A number of follow up activities are being planned to enable the outputs of the session to be disseminated across all fi-compass stakeholders. Following the success of this pilot event, further events are now being planned on other subjects.