FI Campus 2019, the flagship event of fi-compass, took place on 4 and 5 December 2019 in Brussels. The event which took place for the third consecutive year attracted over 400 practitioners from managing authorities, financial intermediaries and other stakeholders involved in ESIF financial instruments. With more participants than ever, the event generated a positive atmosphere that included several interactive sessions that attracted a high level of engagement from expert practitioners.
The theme of the event was ‘Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond’ and the programme featured a number of sessions on the proposed framework for ESIF financial instruments in the 2021-2027 programming period including, inter alia:
- Comprehensive and interactive information sessions on the proposed new Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) as well as the InvestEU Programme;
- Workshops on horizontal topics related to ESIF financial instruments, such as State aid as well as audit and control;
- Case study sessions on financial instruments under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) in a range of different sectors such as urban development, SME competitiveness and research development and innovation (RDI);
- Parallel sessions covering financial instruments under the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
Opening the event, Eric von Breska, Director, Policy Directorate, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission highlighted the importance of financial instruments in the next programming period. In his opening speech he commented, “the role of financial instruments is not to support banks or financial institutions, but to support investments in the real economy, investments in line with the objectives of the cohesion policy.” He added that “there is significant potential for a wider uptake of financial instruments by expanding beyond loans, the most common financial product, and beyond support to SMEs or energy efficiency.”
Simon Barnes, Head of Advisory Services, European Investment Bank emphasised the theme of the event saying, “now is the time to start planning for the use of financial instruments in the next programming period,” which, he added, “provides us with an opportunity to further extend the benefits of financial instruments to both existing and new sectors.”
The event featured ten of the stories submitted to the fi-compass Showcase 2019, each highlighting the positive impact that financial instruments created in their Member State or region. During the event, participants were invited to vote for their favourite story. The three stories with the most votes were presented with the fi-compass Showcase Award 2019 during the closing session. Please see our separate story on the fi-compass Showcase Awards 2019 here.
Impact was also a theme of the keynote speech by Luigi Amati, CEO of META Group, an Italian private equity investment manager, who carried out several equity deals under ERDF financial instruments in a number of EU Member States. Beneath the one-word message ‘CONNECT’ the keynote focused on the importance of mobilising equity investment to support high growth start-ups and growing businesses across Europe.
A new networking platform was launched before FI Campus 2019. This online tool allowed participants to make connections and set up short ‘face-to-face’ meetings with each other. A number of participants created profiles to enable them to network, send messages and arrange meetings with each other using the tool. This platform will remain live until the end of February 2020 (at the earliest) to allow FI Campus 2019 participants to stay in touch, continue to share experiences and exchange on the topics featured at the event.
Presentations from the event are being made available on the FI Campus 2019 event page.
In addition, managing authorities seeking to find out more about the proposals for the new CPR and InvestEU are encouraged to contact the DG REGIO’s Financial Instruments and International Financial Institutions Relations Unit at REGIO-B3-FINANCIAL-INSTRUMENTS@ec.europa.eu.