FI Campus 2023 – Financial instruments in changing times

by Fatima Benabdelaziz-Tair, editor at fi-compass

The fi-compass team is happy to invite you to its first fully in person FI-Campus event since the pandemic. Following in the steps of the 2019 edition, the 2023 event will take place at the DoubleTree Hilton hotel in Brussels from Monday, 13 March to Wednesday, 15 March 2023.

The pandemic shook EU firms to their core, but policy support was sizable and helped them to evolve and survive. The 2023 edition will shed light on the opportunities offered by financial instruments to EU citizens and businesses as they face challenging economic times ahead.

The two-day event will offer participants and practitioners the chance to take part in parallel sessions moderated by specialists on topics of relevance for the different fi-compass EU shared management funds such as ERDF, EAFRD and ESF+.

During these sessions, participants will also hear from trusted practitioners and new voices from around the world as well as meet European Investment Bank Group (EIBG) and European Union experts in networking sessions to exchange in a relaxed setting.

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We are also happy to announce the return of the fi-compass Showcase! The theme of 2023 edition is ‘Financing a sustainable and inclusive Europe’. By now, you will have received an email inviting you to take part; we look forward to hearing from you!

Ahead of D-day, we warmly invite you to check out the details EU and EIB financial instrument experts can already reveal about what awaits you at this flagship event.

'What they say' featuring:

Jonathan Denness, Head of Unit, DG REGIO, European Commission
Michael Pielke, Head of Unit, DG AGRI, European Commission
Brigitte Fellahi-Brognaux, Head of Unit, DG EMPL, European Commission
Frank Lee, Head of Climate and Social Finance Division, European Investment Bank

Jonathan Denness (JD),
Head of Unit, DG REGIO,
European Commission

Michael Pielke (MP),
Head of Unit, DG AGRI,
European Commission

Brigitte Fellahi-Brognaux (BFB),
Head of Unit, DG EMPL,
European Commission

Frank Lee (FL),
Head of Climate and Social Finance Division,
European Investment Bank

What will be the key themes of FI Campus 2023?

JD: We are focusing on the just beginning 2021-27 period and how financial instruments can help us achieve our policy objectives. Apart from the usual regulation related sessions, our ambition is to cover themes that are relevant for more than one participating Commission DG/fund, focusing on themes of particular importance in the current political and economic environment, like REPowerEU, climate change and the New European Bauhaus.

MP: FI Campus has always been a multi-thematic event, which our managing authorities do not miss. Many of the topics discussed at the conference are of common interest to all shared management services. Regarding the new upcoming edition of FI Campus, I expect that we will address the implementation of the EAFRD financial instruments until now; we may see presentations on the Member States’ strategies and/or new financial instruments under the new CAP Strategic Plans, and the new legal framework. Overall, we will talk about the role financial instruments can take to address the new challenges in our policy field.

BFB: This FI Campus edition is the first one of the new programming period, so it will be useful for the social community to get to know the wide range of opportunities offered by the new set of rules. Particularly, the Social Economy Action Plan is the programmatic document that will shape the future of the social economy in the EU, aiming at increasing the access to finance for social entrepreneurs. Deep dives into the actions and initiatives under such Action Plan will be provided, particularly around social impact investing and workers buyout.

FL: FI Campus is our “once a year” opportunity to bring together stakeholders and practitioners from across the sectors and funds. Themes will therefore be, as much as possible, of interest to a wider group of stakeholders, with themes like climate action, innovation, urban development, microfinance and migration. There will of course also be a focus on practical issues regarding set-up and implementation of instruments and interpretation of the regulations, with a big focus on a topic of common interest – combining grants with financial instruments.

What do you think participants get from the multi-sector event?

JD: We need to capitalise on the successes or learn from the difficulties of other practitioners in various policy fields. We will gain by networking with public and private sector stakeholders from all over the EU.

MP: The conference is a great opportunity for knowledge-sharing, cross-checking implementation progress and what is happening in other policy fields, as well as going deeper into projects and schemes, which are thoroughly presented at the event. The implementation of financial instruments under the structural funds and the experiences gained can be very helpful and inspiring for authorities starting with financial instruments under the CAP. It is also an excellent occasion for social contacts and gaining confidence in the usefulness of financial instruments, as it gathers hundreds of specialists working in this field.

BFB: FI Campus has always been a good opportunity to learn from fellow practitioners, exchange on technical topics related to the implementation of social financial instruments, as well as get to know good practices that can be transferred or replicated in different contexts. In addition, and thanks to a peer-to-peer discussion, ESF+ participants will be able to discuss innovative approaches for the delivery of social services.

FL: Primarily, we see the key benefits for participants being to hear and learn from fellow practitioners’ experiences across the EU, a relaxed setting that allows for networking and informal discussions and learning from one another.

A practitioner asking a question at the last Fi Campus event in Brussels.

What will you bring to the event?

JD: We will present aspects of the new CPR in detail. Although it has been simplified, stakeholders still have questions and clarifications are needed. We intend to present the new model FIs on REPowerEU and New European Bauhaus and we will also hear and learn from colleagues and participants. Our presence at the event is part of our efforts and commitment to provide assistance and always be ready to support our colleagues in the managing authorities, and not only, in their efforts to utilise FIs to achieve our policy objectives.

BFB: Participating at the FI Campus 2023 is a key action for DG EMPL because it is a great opportunity to meet ESF stakeholders and reinforce the implementation of financial instruments within the social economy.

FL: We will be bringing the full advisory, mandate management and financing firepower of the EIB Group, as a committed partner to the Commission in stimulating more interest and use of financial instruments in mobilising more public and private sector participation in delivering on key Cohesion policy objectives.