- Thursday 18 March 2021, 10:00 - 21:54 (CET)
- Thursday 18 March 2021, 10:00 - 21:54 (CET)
Keynote speech by Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni
In his keynote address, EU Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, emphasised the importance of investment for the speed and quality of Europe’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The InvestEU programme, he said, would not only boost future-oriented investments across the European Union but also provide crucial support to companies, helping the economy to overcome the effects of the COVID19 crisis. With about €11 billion of funds, the InvestEU programme will be a major contributor to the €26 billion in guarantees that the EU has set aside to with the aim of mobilising more than €372 billion euros to support investment in priority areas. Commissioner Gentiloni also highlighted the unique features of the InvestEU programme. InvestEU has four policy windows (sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium-sized businesses; and social investment and skills), he explained. It will also contribute to the recovery efforts of Member States under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, he said. Another novel feature of InvestEU is that it will work with a network of implementing partners in the Member States, in addition to the EIB group, so as to extend its regional reach, he explained.
Commissioner Gentiloni praised the successful cooperation between the EIB and InvestEU’s predecessor, the European Fund For Strategic Investments, which he said had helped to support more than 730 infrastructure projects in Europe and provided finance to almost 1.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises.
InvestEU will support projects with a high added value for EU policy priorities and contribute to the European public good, he said.
InvestEU Programme in a nutshell: the Fund, the Advisory Hub, the Portal
During this session, the management of ECFIN’s directorate for InvestEU and financial institutions presented the InvestEU Programme.
Giorgio Chiarion Casoni, Acting Director of InvestEU and Financial Institutions at DG ECFIN, presented the three components of the InvestEU Programme- the InvestEU Fund, Advisory Hub and Portal- and provided further details on the main principles of the fund.
He highlighted that the InvestEU Programme features a sole fund that brings together many EU-level financial instruments. It offers simplification because it is based on a single regulation and agreement with implementing partners (EIB Group, national promotional banks, IFIs). It also offers advisory services.
He also explained that InvestEU provides an EU budgetary guarantee to financial institutions to undertake financial activities and offer support under four policy windows - sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium-sized businesses; and social investment and skills. Guarantees from InvestEU can be combined with funding from other EU instruments and programmes (for example Horizon Europe).
EU Member States can use funds from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, shared management funds under the Common Provisions Regulation as well as cash to provision the InvestEU guarantee
75% of the EU budget guarantee under the InvestEU Programme will be implemented by the EIB Group and the set-up of the partnership is currently in progress. The remaining 25% of the EU guarantee will be deployed by other potential implementing partners. A call for expressions of interest from potential implementing partners and advisory partners is expected to be launched in April 2021 with a first cut-off date in June and a second in September 2021.
Alina Tanasa, Head of the Investment Programmes Management unit in DG ECFIN, continued by introducing the InvestEU Advisory Hub, the successor of the European Investment Advisory Hub.
She explained that the InvestEU Advisory Hub will be managed and hosted by the European Commission and will be available through the InvestEU website, as soon as the advisory agreements are signed. It will provide support and assistance with the identification, preparation, development, structuring and implementation of investment projects, including capacity building. In practical terms, project promoters will be guided to the relevant advisory initiative by a web app.
Kristine Kozlova, Deputy Head of the InvestEU governance and advisory unit in DG ECFIN, presented the last component of the InvestEU Programme, the InvestEU Portal – the successor to the existing European Investment Project Portal.
The InvestEU Portal, a one-stop-shop of investible European projects and meeting place for promoters and investors, also has a number of novel features. The portal will provide a link to the implementing partners, who will examine the projects falling within their geographical and activity scope and will link to the InvestEU Advisory Hub. The eligibility threshold has been lowered to €500 000 in the new portal and a new tagging system will be implemented. The InvestEU Portal will also feature a special search tool to find SME projects.
In the Q&A session, speakers mentioned that the guarantees provided by the EU will not be deployed all at once, but another call for expressions of interest for potential implementing partners is planned in 2023. The EU guarantees are also open to national promotional banks and international financial institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Council of Europe Development Bank, or the Nordic Investment Bank.
The InvestEU programme is primarily meant to cover private investment in the form of loans or equity investment and is intended for both small companies and large infrastructure projects, but publicly owned entities may also be supported (for example, local government entities or public owned companies). While there is no minimum or maximum amount per project, the funding rate will depend on the risk profile and InvestEU cannot cover more than 50% of the cost of a project.
The InvestEU Programme should also take into account the taxonomy rules for sustainable finance. In this sense, two guidance documents – on climate tracking and on sustainability proofing – will be adopted in April 2021, taking into account the “do no harm principle”. In practice, InvestEU projects will be checked on their climate, environmental and social dimensions.
The role of the implementing partners
In the last session of the event, Jean Christophe Laloux, Director-General at the European Investment Bank, Charlotte Ruhe, Managing Director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Krzysztof Senger, Managing Director at Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK)- the Polish National Promotional Bank, provided their views on their roles as implementing partners.
The financial partners stand ready to support the successful deployment of the InvestEU programme by using the money wisely to amplify the benefits of public support and by taking advantage of their local presence and market expertise. Implementing partners will focus the efforts and the public money where it matters most. Moreover, with the help of the EU budget guarantee, they will be able scale-up riskier investments, especially when it comes to innovation and SMEs.
The main partner remains the EIB Group, which has successfully implemented and managed the European Fund for Strategic Investments since its launch in 2015 and which will be responsible for implementing 75% of the EU guarantee. The remaining 25% will be deployed by other implementing partners, which should help to enhance the geographical and sectoral outreach of the programme.
Questions were raised regarding the additionality of projects and the impact that the InvestEU Programme is expected to generate. The speakers mentioned that the InvestEU Programme builds on the success of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, which helped to boost EU GDP by an estimated 2% through the investments it supported, and that they are optimistic that InvestEU can do even better.
The event was wrapped up by Markus Schulte, Principal Adviser in DG ECFIN, who outlined that there is a clear sense of joint responsibility for the success of the InvestEU Programme, a clear sense of partnership between the Commission and the implementing partners as well as a common vision.
For more information, visit the brand new InvestEU website