Local and regional politicians welcome the new InvestEU programme simplifying the support through the multitude of EU financial instruments. In the opinion adopted at the European Committee Regions' December plenary session rapporteur Konstantinos Agorastos (EL/EPP), Governor of the Region of Thessaly, urges the programme to address regional disparities, which can be more effectively achieved through close coordination with the local and regional level.
Since the start of the global economic and financial crisis in 2008, the EU has been suffering from low levels of investment. Especially local and regional authorities in many cases have still not been able to fully reverse the cuts to their budgets leaving little financial flexibility for investments. To tackle the persisting lack of investment, the European Commission intends in the EU budget 2021-2027 to group a number of different EU loan and guarantee programmes under one financial instrument called InvestEU. Economic, social and territorial cohesion must be included among its objectives demands the European Committee of the Regions.
"Investment is a perquisite for a healthy economy with the ability to grow, stay competitive and to provide for the well-being of citizens. The investment situation on regional level is very diverse and remains particularly worrying in a number of regions. In more than 40 European regions investment levels in 2015 were more than 25% lower than in 2007, in Greek regions even more than 60%. The new InvestEU programme shows the European Commission's ambition to broaden the support for investment. This support needs to be geographically balanced targeting those regions suffering the most", said Konstantinos Agorastos (EL/EPP), rapporteur of the CoR opinion on the InvestEU Programme.
The new programme will include a fund, an advisory platform and a portal. According to the rapporteur only one set of rules and procedures as well as one point of contact will not only make the use of financial instruments and the combination with other EU support easier but also more efficient.
To improve the Commission's proposal the members of the European Committee of the Regions suggest
for the InvestEU Fund:
- to introduce fast-track procedures for small-scale projects
- to reserve 35% of resources for achieving climate-related objectives
- that carried out investment in infrastructure should be resilient to disasters and climate conditions
- to give special importance to the "social investment and skills" policy window as a tool to unlock investment in innovative social infrastructure projects at local level
for the Advisory Hub:
- to have local presence of the Advisory Hub, preferably in regions that face difficulties in developing projects under the Invest EU Fund, or which suffer from significant and persistent lack of investment
- to focus on knowledge transfer and capacity building at regional and local level especially as existing EU-funded capacity building tools are not successfully addressing local and regional needs
- to keep the exemption and not charge public institutions for services of the InvestEU Advisory Hub
for the InvestEU Portal:
- further outreach and awareness-raising as its success strongly depends on reaching a critical mass of users
- to clarify that inclusion of a project on the Portal can neither be seen as a guarantee nor as a prerequisite for support of any kind since the submission to the Portal must remain voluntary
Note to the editors:
InvestEU will run between 2021 and 2027 by providing an EU budget guarantee to support investment and access to finance in the EU. The aim is to trigger €650 billion in additional investment in four policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium-sized businesses; and social investment and skills. InvestEU builds on the experiences of the Investment Plan for Europe, which the European Comission jointly launched with the EIB Group in November 2014 to help overcome the investment gap in the EU. A European Fund for Strategic Investments was created in 2015 with the aim to revive investment in strategic projects around the continent to ensure that money reaches the real economy and attracting private and public investors. It was originally foreseen to have a short investment period to maximise the impact, until July 2018. Due to its success, EFSI was expanded in size and extended in duration in December 2017. Its investment period now lasts until end-2020, the end of the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) until the new InvestEU programme will take over.
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