Local leaders mobilise to bridge the investment gap
Problems with managing public procurement and public-private partnerships hold back investment in the EU's regions and cities, according to a survey carried out by the European Committee of the Regions. A draft opinion aimed at tackling the challenges to investment is currently under preparation. Stronger expertise and more awareness of the Investment Plan are needed to speed up investment on the ground.
 
How to best tackle the obstacles preventing investment on the local level was at the centre of a discussion during the meeting of the Commission for Economic Policy (ECON) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). To get a better picture of why investment is still low and what keeps public or private investment from actually taking place on local and regional level, the CoR conducted a survey with over 300 local and regional authorities responding.
 
A striking result was the issue of administrative know-how at local and regional level explained Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions and rapporteur of the opinion 'Bridging the investment gap'. "Too often, there is a lack of awareness and administrative capacity at local and regional level, especially when co-creating projects with higher levels of complexity. This can significantly hold back both public as well as private investment. The CoR and its members are committed to finding ways to overcome these challenges so that investment can flourish.”
 
Although the Investment Plan can be part of the solution to the investment gap, the survey also showed that a lack of awareness, information and expertise hinders cities and regions' involvement in the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and in investment platforms. " The EU has many successful tools for investment, which all contribute to tackling Europe's large and damaging investment gap. Each and every one of them has a different but not antagonist philosophy. However, we can only benefit from their unique and often complementary roles if cities and regions are aware of this potential. More communication efforts are clearly needed, especially on the ground, where regional projects have to happen ", said Markkula.
 
Taking part in the discussion Roberto Gualtieri, Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs in the European Parliament, stated: "The proposal put forward by the Commission must be seen as an opportunity not only to extend the deadline of EFSI, but also to reflect on how to improve the effectiveness of the plan and its capacity to reduce the investment gap with a greater macroeconomic impact . More should be done firstly in encouraging blending between structural funds, national co-financing and EFSI financing, and secondly in fully involving National and Regional Promotional Banks. Moreover, the creation of units of the Advisory HUB in various regions can better orient operators in EU funding, and can help them to improve the quality of the projects that will be presented to the Investment Committee, increasing their chances of success”.
 
Investment in Europe is a recurring key priority of the European Committee of the Regions. In Bratislava local and regional leaders signed a declaration under the title 'Invest and Connect' calling on the EU to improve regulation and attract greater private-public investment to create more jobs and tackle the investment gap.
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