Procedure : 2016/2064(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0200/2017

Texts tabled :

A8-0200/2017

Debates :

PV 14/06/2017 - 17
CRE 14/06/2017 - 17

Votes :

PV 15/06/2017 - 7.5
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0270

REPORT     
PDF 647kWORD 149k
22.5.2017
PE 597.724v02-00 A8-0200/2017

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Committee on Budgets

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

Rapporteurs: José Manuel Fernandes, Udo Bullmann

Joint committee procedure – Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure

Rapporteurs for the opinion (*):

Marian-Jean Marinescu, Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Inés Ayala Sender and Dominique Riquet, Committee on Transport and Tourism

(*) Associated committees – Rule 54 of the Rules of Procedure

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT - SUMMARY OF FACTS AND FINDINGS
 MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 OPINION of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (*)
 OPINION of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (*)
 OPINION of the Committee on International Trade
 OPINION of the Committee on Budgetary Control
 OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection
 OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development
 OPINION of the Committee on Culture and Education
 INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT - SUMMARY OF FACTS AND FINDINGS

In July 2015, the Regulation for the European Fund for Strategic Investments entered into force. This was preceded by intensive negotiations – both in content and in time – between European Commission, Council and European Parliament. In these negotiations, the European Parliament insisted on a series of political and technical adjustments and managed to significantly improve the European Commission proposal, which had been pre-negotiated with the European Investment Bank.

A look back: What the European Parliament achieved in the Trilogue negotiations

In a remarkable spirit of good cooperation across political groups, in 66 hours of Trilogue negotiations the European Parliament managed to achieve:

•  that EFSI will bring real additionality. Many projects that have the potential to bring the European economy forward – such as investments in energy efficiency, broadband and transport – lack financing simply because they are too risky. The European Parliament introduced clear guidance – via eligibility criteria, investment guidelines and scoreboard – on the choice of projects, such that future-oriented investments are the clear target of EFSI.

•  that the financing of €8bn for the EU guarantee fund was secured through an additional 1 billion from the margins (meaning ‘fresh’ appropriations), which led to 500m less cuts for each of Horizon 2020 and Connecting Europe Facility (compared to the original COM proposal). This amount increased the total contribution from the margins to 3 billion, and reduced accordingly the contribution of the two programmes.

•  a powerful intermediary structure. Given that Member States announced their unwillingness to engage in the EFSI structure and recognising the successful role that National Promotional Banks play already today in Europe, the European Parliament extended the EFSI´s room for manoeuvre by introducing an intermediary structure.

•  support for SMEs. They are the drivers of growth and job creation, and are thus to benefit from EFSI especially, but not only, via the EIF SME window.

•  a significant contribution to economic, social and territorial cohesion, as well as boosting of employment.

•  the prevention of a strong geographic and thematic concentration of the EFSI interventions.

•  that the EIAH provides expertise free of charge for public project promoters and the fees charged to SMEs are capped at one third of their cost in order to ensure fair access to EFSI financing across the Union.

•  the extension of the guarantee to projects in third countries.

The European Parliament was successful in expanding EFSI´s opportunities to contribute to growth and jobs by promoting future-oriented investments, which were not at the forefront of the proposal originally foreseen by the European Commission and defended by the Council.

Where do we stand after 1.5 years of EFSI in place?

EFSI has now been in place for around 1.5 years. Even though this does neither allow for a comprehensive nor final assessment, evidence gathered so far can give a first indication of how the Regulation has been implemented.

The general impression is that EFSI has, from a quantitative point of view, delivered the expected results vis-à-vis the benchmark of 315bn EUR within the given timeframe, while in the SME Window these results have even largely exceeded expectations. From a qualitative point of view however, there are concerns on whether the Regulation has been implemented totally in line with what was foreseen by the co-legislators. Instead of promoting path-breaking projects, the EIB used the EU guarantee also to promote projects which cast doubt on whether they are in line with the project selection criteria established. Instead of cooperating with National Promotional Banks to find the best projects in Europe and to assist them all over the project cycle, it appears that the EIB steers competition with these actors. Instead of pro-actively working together with the European Parliament, the information flow has not been optimal.

This impression is underlined by several studies, assessments and evaluations on EFSI. The most prominent and recent independent impact assessment, commissioned and paid by the European Commission comes to the conclusion that there are several insufficiencies in the implementation of EFSI by the European Investment Bank.

The main findings of the different evaluations and reports are:

•  Relevance. Despite the persistent investment gap, EFSI has been relevant in addressing investment and market needs in Europe by focusing on the requirement of high-risk financing.

•  Multiplier and private capital. With a portfolio multiplier of 14.1 for signed operation and the mobilisation of 63% of private investment, EFSI has contributed to increased access to financing and the mobilisation of private capital.

•  Additionality. While the volume of signatures by the EIB has been roughly constant since 2012 (around 75bn euros), the volume of special activities has grown significantly (from around 4 bn euro in 2013 to the planned 20-24 bn in 2016/18); Moreover, for the period ending 30 June 2016, new counterparts accounted for 85% of signed operations under the IIW, and 38% under the SMEW. Despite these figures, it appears that not all projects supported via EFSI seem to be truly additional. Respondents to the surveys and interviews conducted indicated that some of the financed projects could have been financed without EFSI support. For other projects the investment could not have been made to the same extent as with EFSI support. However, the study finds that the risk-behavior of the EIB as regards its EFSI activities has improved slightly over time.

•  Complementarity with other EU financing sources. Main problems seem to be differentiating the goals and conditions of EFSI financing from other and similar funding sources, leading to a competition with other EU funds. This holds true in particular for the complementarity with the debt instruments under the CEF, targeting the same type of projects that could be financed by EFSI under the IIW, as well as for certain instruments managed by the EIB under Horizon2020. Further, there is a high complementarity with COSME and InnovFin under the SMEW. However, some beneficiaries indicated that EFSI is attractive as it is cheaper compared to other investors, and support has a longer tenure than alternative support instruments. As regards the ESIF, it is acknowledged that there is an added value in combining the EFSI with ESIF; however, regulatory issues complicate this combination.

•  Scoreboard. There are insufficiencies in the application of the Scoreboard. In terms of added value, the projects are scored by EIB on different criteria, such as contribution to the EFSI objectives, additionality, economic and technical viability of the projects and maximisation of private investment. However, there seems to be no clear definition on a minimum threshold per criterion, nor a weighting.

•  Efficiency of procedure. EFSI support is effective in terms of approvals (1/3 of expected investments were mobilised after 1/3 of the initial life-time). However, beneficiaries and intermediaries have indicated the need to speed-up the approval/due diligence process.

•  Geographic distribution. A broad overall coverage is reached by sector and Member State. However, a closer look reveals that as at 30 June 2016, EFSI support was not evenly distributed: the EU15 received 91% of EFSI support, whereas the EU13 received a mere 9% only (excluding multi-country operations). Within the IIW, UK, Italy and Spain had received 63.4%, while for the SMEW Italy, France and Germany received 36.1% of total EFSI support.

•  Sectorial distribution. As regards sectors, operations signed under the IIW spanned seven EFSI sectors. Of these, energy was prevalent, accounting for 46% of total EFSI financing under the IIW; thereby exceeding the indicative 30% sector concentration limit for sectors as laid down in EFSI’s Strategic Orientation. The SMEW’s signed operations span four EFSI sectors. Of these, RDI was the preeminent sector, accounting for 69% of total EFSI financing under the SMEW.

•  Investment platforms. A serious difficulty to set up investment platforms was identified (no such platform had been created one year after entering into force of the regulation), and that efforts should be intensified in the context of the EIAH to provide technical assistance in this area. Furthermore, it is not clear to all stakeholders what the role of the EIB would be in those platforms. Interviewees also indicated that there is a high demand for innovation projects that are below the threshold for EFSI projects under the IIW. Currently, it seems that the need for financing smaller projects is not sufficiently addressed through establishing platforms or by distributing the resources through financial intermediaries.

•  Communication and Visibility. Further communication on EFSI among stakeholders is needed to raise further awareness, in order to also improve cooperation with NPBs and local actors.

•  EIAH. The need to increase communication and raise awareness on potential services is identified, together with the need to increase capacity and strengthen links with other service providers.


MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 165 and 166 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Article 14 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 of the European Parliament and of the Council(1) (the EFSI Regulation),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Court of Auditors on the management of the guarantee fund of the European Fund for Strategic Investment of 31 May 2016 (COM(2016)0353),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 1 June 2016 (COM(2016)0359,

–  having regard to the annual report from the European Investment Bank to the European Parliament and the Council on 2015 EIB Group Financing and Investment Operations under EFSI(2),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document evaluation SWD(2016)0297, to the Evaluation of the functioning of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) by the European Investment Bank(3), to the Ad-hoc audit of the application of Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 by Ernst and Young(4) and to the opinion by the European Court of Auditors(5),

–  having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council to amend Regulations (EU) No 1316/2016 and (EU) 2015/1017 (COM(2016)0597),

  having regard to the Paris Agreement adopted at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Paris, France in December 2015,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of Regions,

  –  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Budgetary Control, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Regional Development and the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0200/2017),

1.  Takes note of the large investment gap in Europe, which the Commission estimates at a minimum of EUR 200-300 billion a year; highlights in particular, against this backdrop, the needs in Europe for high-risk financing, particularly in the fields of SME financing, R&D, ICT and transport, communications and energy infrastructure, which are necessary to sustain inclusive economic development; is concerned by the fact that the most recent data on national accounts do not indicate any surge in investment since the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) was launched, leading to concerns that, without a change, there will be continued subdued growth and continuing high unemployment rates, particularly among young people and the new generations; stresses that closing this investment gap by creating an environment conducive to investment in certain strategic areas is key to reviving growth, fighting unemployment, promoting the development of a strong, sustainable and competitive industry and attaining long-term EU policy objectives;

2.  Emphasises the role played by EFSI in helping to resolve difficulties and remove obstacles to financing as well as to implement strategic, transformative and productive investments that provide a high level of added value to the economy, the environment and society, to reform and modernise Member States’ economies, to create growth and jobs for which market funding is not obtained despite economic feasibility, and to encourage private investment in all regions of the EU;

3.  Recalls the role of Parliament as provided for in the regulation, in particular in relation to the monitoring of EFSI implementation; acknowledges, however, that it is too early to finalise a comprehensive evidence-based assessment of the functioning of EFSI and its impact on the EU economy, but is of the opinion that a preliminary evaluation based on comprehensive data on the projects selected and rejected and the related decisions is crucial in order to identify possible areas of improvement for EFSI 2.0 and thereafter; calls on the Commission to come forward with a comprehensive assessment as soon as the information becomes available;

Additionality

4.  Recalls that the purpose of EFSI is to ensure additionality by helping to address market failures or suboptimal investment situations, by supporting operations which could not have been carried out, or not to the same extent, under existing Union financial instruments or through private sources without the involvement of EFSI; notes, however, that there is a need for further clarification of the concept of additionality;

5.  Recalls that the projects supported by EFSI, while striving to create employment, sustainable growth, economic, territorial and social cohesion in line with the general objectives laid down in Article 9 of the EFSI Regulation, are considered to provide additionality if they carry a risk corresponding to EIB special activities, as defined in Article 16 of the EIB Statute and by the credit risk policy guidelines of the EIB; recalls that projects supported by EFSI shall typically have a higher risk profile than projects supported by EIB normal operations; underlines that EIB projects carrying a risk lower than the minimum risk under EIB special activities may also be supported by EFSI only if use of the EU guarantee is required to ensure additionality;

6.  Notes that, while all projects approved under EFSI are presented as ‘special activities’, an independent evaluation has found that some projects could have been financed without the use of the EU guarantee;

7.  Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the EIB and the EFSI governance structures, to draw up an inventory of all EU-backed EIB financing falling under the additionality criteria and to provide clear and comprehensive explanations of the evidence that the projects could not have been realised through other means;

8.  Notes that a contradiction between the qualitative and quantitative goals of EFSI might occur in the sense that, to achieve the target for attracted private investment, the EIB might fund less risky projects where investors’ interest already exists; urges the EIB and the EFSI governance structures to implement real additionality as defined in Article 5 of the EFSI Regulation and to ensure that market failures and sub-optimal situations are fully addressed;

9.  Calls on the EIB to ensure transparency in funds management and in relation to the origin of any public, private and third-party contributions, and to provide concrete data, including on specific projects and on foreign investors, and highlights the reporting requirements to Parliament in the EFSI Regulation; reiterates the fact that all potential future third-country contributors have to comply with all EU rules on public procurement, labour law and environmental regulations, and expects that the social and environmental criteria applicable to EIB projects are fully upheld in EFSI project financing decisions;

Scoreboard and project selection

10.  Notes that, as provided for in the regulation, prior to a project being selected for EFSI support, it has to undergo due-diligence and decision-making processes both in the EIB and the EFSI governance structures; observes that project promoters have expressed a wish for swift feedback and enhanced transparency in relation to both the selection criteria and the amount and type/tranche of possible EFSI support; calls for greater clarity in order to further encourage project promoters to apply for EFSI support, including by making the scoreboard available to applicants for EFSI financing; calls for the decision‑making process to be made more transparent in respect of the selection criteria and financial support and to be speeded up, while continuing to ensure robust due‑diligence in order to protect EU resources; underlines that, in order to simplify the evaluation process, in particular for investment platforms, joint due-diligence on the part of the EIB and National Promotional Banks (NPBs), or a delegation by the EIB to NPBs, should be encouraged;

11.  Considers that the criteria according to which projects and eligible counterparts are assessed should be further clarified; requests further information from the EFSI governing bodies on the evaluations carried out on all projects approved under EFSI accordingly, in particular as regards their additionality, their contribution to sustainable growth and their job creation capacity, as defined in the regulation; calls, in relation to eligible counterparts, for strict rules on corporate governance for these types of entity to become acceptable EFSI partners in respect of EU principles and International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards;

12.  Recalls that the scoreboard is a tool for the Investment Committee (IC)to prioritise the use of the EU guarantee for operations that display higher scores and added value, and that it must be used by the Investment Committee accordingly; intends to assess whether the scoreboard and its indicators are being properly consulted, applied and used; requests that the project selection criteria be properly applied and this process be made more transparent; recalls that, according to the annex to the current regulation, the IC must assign equal importance to each pillar of the scoreboard when prioritising projects, irrespective of whether the individual pillar yields a numerical score, or whether it is composed of unscored qualitative and quantitative indicators; regrets that Pillar 3, relevant to the technical aspects of the projects, is in the current scoreboards given the same importance as Pillars 1 and 2, which relate to the more important desired outcomes; criticises the fact that the EIB itself admits that the IC’s experts only make use of the 4th pillar for information purposes, not for decision-making; requests that scoreboards, with the exclusion of commercially sensitive information, be made public after the final decision on a project has been taken;

13.  Acknowledges that it may take some years to prepare new innovative projects, that the EIB is under pressure to achieve the EUR 315 billion goal and therefore had no option but to launch EFSI activities immediately; is concerned, however, that the EIB, when implementing EFSI, has thus far drawn on its existing project pipeline with lower risk projects to a large extent, thereby reducing its own conventional financing; fears that EFSI does not provide complementary financing for high-risk innovative projects; underlines that even though a project qualifies as a special activity, this does not necessarily imply that it is risky; however, the classification as a special activity might also stem from the fact that its financing has been structured in an artificially risky fashion, implying that very low-risk projects can also easily end up as high-risk projects; stresses that the project criteria should not be watered down for the sake of achieving the political target of EUR 315 billion in mobilised investments;

14.  Requests that the EIB provide an estimate of its potential annual lending capacity in the medium term, taking into account EFSI and possible regulatory developments and to continue its own lending at rates of EUR 70‑75 billion a year, using profits, repayments from the programmes etc., and that it use EFSI as complementary tool; notes that this would mean the business volume of the EIB would reach at least EUR 90 billion, not EUR 75 billion in total;

15.  Considers it important to discuss whether the envisaged leverage of 15 is appropriate to enable EFSI to support high quality projects bearing a higher risk, and calls on the Commission to provide an assessment to that effect; recalls that this leverage of 15 is portfolio-based and reflects the EIB’s financing experience with a view to addressing market failures; calls for weighing up the public goals to be achieved by EFSI as a complement to the volume requirement; suggests that account also be taken of the Union’s targets set at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21); calls on the EIB to disclose the leverage achieved to date, together with the underlying calculation method;

16.  Points out that small-scale projects often encounter difficulties in obtaining the funding they need; notes with concern that small projects are deterred from applying for EFSI financing, or are even declared ineligible for that funding, based on their size; points to the significant impact that a small project might nevertheless have on a national or regional scale; stresses the need to step up the technical assistance available from the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH), which is instrumental in advising and accompanying promoters of small-scale projects in the structuring and bundling of projects via investment platforms or framework agreements; calls on the Steering Board to look into this issue and put forward proposals to correct this situation;

Sectorial diversification

17.  Emphasises that EFSI is a demand-driven instrument, which should, however, be guided by the political objectives set out in the regulation and defined by the Steering Board; calls for more outreach and provision of information to sectors which have an unmet demand for investment, but have not been able to make full use of EFSI; notes, in this regard, that, on an EU macro-economic level, more measures should be taken to boost demand for investment;

18.  Welcomes that all sectors defined in the EFSI Regulation have been covered by EFSI financing; points out, however, that certain sectors are under-represented, notably the social infrastructure, health and education sectors, to which only 4 % of EFSI‑approved financing has been dedicated; notes that this might be due to a variety of reasons, for example that some sectors might have suffered from a lack of experience and technical knowledge of how to get access to EFSI, or that they already offered better investment opportunities in terms of shovel-ready, bankable projects when EFSI started up; invites the EIB against this backdrop to discuss how to improve sectoral diversification, linking it to the goals set out in the regulation as well as the issue of whether EFSI support should be extended to other sectors;

19.  Recalls that the COP21 climate agreement endorsed by the EU requires a major shift towards sustainable investment that EFSI should fully support; stresses that EFSI investments should be compatible with this commitment; underlines the need to strengthen reporting on climate change;

20.  Points to the need to increase the percentage of resources allocated to long-term projects such as telecommunications networks, or to projects involving a relatively high degree of risk typically associated with more advanced emerging new technologies; notes that investment in broadband infrastructure and 5G, cybersecurity, the digitalisation of the traditional economy, micro-electronics and high-performance computing (HPC) could further reduce the digital divide;

21.  Regrets the lack of concentration limits in the initial ramp-up phase; recalls that the transport sector has made the largest contribution to the EFSI fund, EUR 2.2 billion out of EUR 8 billion, representing more than 25 % of the total guarantee fund; notes with concern that the transport sector has received only around 13 % of all the investment mobilised and made available to date under the EFSI’s infrastructure and innovation window, which is far from the 30 % limit established for each specific sector; calls on the Investment Committee to pay particular attention to transport sector projects, since these are still very poorly represented in the investment portfolio, and transport plays a significant role in economic growth and consumer safety;

Governance

22.  Observes that the EFSI governance structures have been implemented in full within the EIB; considers that, with a view to improving the efficiency and accountability of EFSI, options for making the EFSI governance structure completely separate from that of the EIB should be discussed;

23.  Recalls that the Managing Director (MD) is responsible for the day-to-day management of EFSI, the preparation and chairing of meetings of the IC and for external representation; recalls that the MD is assisted by the Deputy Managing Director (DMD); regrets that, in practice, the respective roles, especially that of the DMD, have not been clearly identified; invites the EIB to reflect on spelling out the tasks of the MD and the DMD more clearly in order to ensure transparency and accountability; considers it important that the MD, assisted by the DMD, continue to set the agenda of the IC meetings; suggests, furthermore, that the MD should devise procedures for tackling potential conflicts of interest within the IC, report to the Steering Board (SB) and propose sanctions for breaches as well as the means to implement them; believes that the authority of the MD and the DMD in carrying out these tasks would be enhanced by enjoying greater autonomy vis-à-vis the EIB; invites the EIB accordingly to explore options for increasing the independence of the MD and the DMD;

24.  Recalls that the IC experts are responsible for EFSI project selection, granting the EU guarantee and for approving operations with investment platforms and NPBs or institutions; recalls further that they are independent; is concerned, therefore, about documented conflicts of interest on the part of IC members, which must in all circumstances be avoided in the future;

25  Considers that project selection is not transparent enough; stresses that the EIB should make improvements in relation to the disclosure of information about the projects it approves under EFSI, with a proper justification of additionality and the scoreboard as well as the projects’ contribution in achieving the EFSI objectives, with particular emphasis on the expected impact of EFSI operations on the investment gap in the Union;

26.  Invites the EIB to reflect on the ways in which cooperation between IC, through the MD and the SB, could be enhanced; considers it important that the MD participate in SB meetings which would allow the MD to inform the SB about future activities;

27.  Proposes discussing means of enhancing the transparency of EFSI governance structures for Parliament and the addition of a further full member to the SB appointed by Parliament; urges the EFSI governance bodies to share information with Parliament on a proactive basis;

National Promotional Banks

28.  Recalls that as a result of their know‑how, NPBs are essential for the success of EFSI, as they are close to, and familiar with, the local markets; finds that synergies have so far not been exploited to the requisite extent; observes a risk of local institutions being crowded out by the EIB and invites the EIB to improve its ability to crowd in national and sub-national partners; calls for the EIB to support the enhancement of existing public banking structures, with a view to actively facilitating the exchange of good practices and market knowledge among these institutions; considers, to that end, that NPBs should aim at entering into collaboration agreements with the European Investment Fund (EIF); recognises that EFSI and the EIB are increasingly willing to take more junior/subordinated tranches with the NPBs and urges them to continue to do so; invites the Commission and the EIB to discuss whether it would be useful to incorporate NPB expertise into the SB;

Investment platforms

29.  Recalls that diversified investments with a geographical or thematic focus should be made possible by helping to finance and bundle projects and funds from different sources; notes with concern that the first investment platform was only set up in the third quarter of 2016 and that the delay in doing so is hampering the opportunity for small-scale projects to benefit from EFSI and the development of cross-border projects; highlights the need to simplify the rules for establishing investment platforms; requests that the EIB and the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) promote the use of investment platforms as a way of achieving the geographical and thematic diversification of investments;

30.  Urges the EFSI governing bodies to pay greater attention to investment platforms with a view to maximising the benefits that the latter can bring in overcoming investment barriers, especially in Member States with less developed financial markets; invites the EIB to provide stakeholders, including national, local and regional bodies, with more information on the platforms and the conditions and criteria governing their establishment; recognises the role of local and regional authorities in identifying strategic projects and encouraging participation;

31.  Proposes a discussion of additional means of promoting investment platforms, such as by prioritising the approval of projects presented via a platform, the pooling of smaller projects and group contracts and establishing mechanisms to finance groupings of contracts; believes that transnational platforms should be promoted in particular, as many energy and digital projects have a transnational dimension;

Financial instruments

32.  Recalls that the EIB has developed new financial instruments for the purposes of EFSI in order to provide tailor-made products for high-risk financing; urges the EIB to further increase its added value by focusing on riskier financial products such as subordinated finance and capital market instruments; expresses concerns about project promoters’ criticisms that the financing instruments provided are not compatible with their projects’ needs (high‑risk projects often need money upfront to kick-start investments, and not in smaller amounts on a year‑by‑year basis) and investors stressing that they are currently not in a position to participate in EFSI financing due to a lack of appropriate private equity instruments; invites the EIB to examine this in cooperation with project promoters and investors; invites the EIB, furthermore, to explore how the development of green bonds can maximise the potential of EFSI in the financing of projects which have positive environmental and/or climate benefits;

Geographical diversification

33.  Welcomes that by the end of 2016 all 28 countries had received EFSI funding; notes with concern, however, that as of 30 June 2016, the EU‑15 had received 91 % whereas the EU‑13 had only received 9 % of EFSI support; regrets that EFSI support has mainly benefited a limited number of countries where the investment gaps are already below the EU average; notes that within beneficiary countries, there is often an unequal geographical distribution of EFSI-funded projects; considers there is a risk of territorial concentration and underlines the need for greater attention to be paid to less developed regions across all 28 Member States; calls on the EIB to provide further technical assistance to those countries and regions which have benefited less from EFSI;

34.  Acknowledges that GDP and the number of projects approved are linked; recognises that larger Member States are able to take advantage of more developed capital markets and are therefore more likely to benefit from a market-driven instrument such as EFSI; underlines that lower EFSI support in the EU‑13 may be attributable to other factors, such as the small size of projects, the peripheral geographical position of a given region and competition from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds); observes with concern, however, the disproportionate benefit to certain countries and underlines the need to diversify geographical distribution further, especially in crucial sectors such as modernising and improving the productivity and sustainability of economies, with a key focus on technological development; asks the Commission to further investigate and map out the reasons for the current geographical distribution;

European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH)

35.  Attaches the utmost importance to the operation of the EIAH; considers that its mission to act as a single point of entry to comprehensive advisory and technical assistance throughout all stages of the project cycle largely responds to the growing need for technical assistance support among authorities and project promoters;

36.  Is pleased that the EIAH has been up and running since September 2015, moving through a quick implementation phase; acknowledges that, due to the limited period of its existence and a shortage of staff at the initial stage, not all EIAH services have been fully developed and that activity has predominantly focused on providing support for project development and structuring, policy advice, and project screening; underlines the need for the EIAH to recruit experts from various areas in an effort to better target its advice, communication and support towards the sectors which do not use EFSI to the fullest extent;

37.  Is convinced that the EIAH has the potential to play an instrumental role in addressing many of the shortcomings of EFSI implementation; believes strongly that, in order to do so, it needs to adopt a more proactive stance in providing assistance in fields such as setting up investment platforms, also in view of the latter’s importance in the financing of smaller projects; stresses also the role of the EIAH in providing advice combining other sources of Union funding with EFSI;

38.  Considers, similarly, that the EIAH can actively contribute towards geographical and sectoral diversification, not only by covering all regions and more sectors in the provision of its services, but also by assisting the EIB in launching operations; believes that the EIAH can play an important role in contributing to the objective of economic, social and territorial cohesion;

39.  Recalls that the EFSI Regulation confers a mandate on the EIAH to leverage local knowledge with a view to facilitating EFSI support across the Union; believes that significant improvements are needed in this area, notably more cooperation with the appropriate national institutions; attaches great importance to the provision of services at local level, also in order to take account of specific situations and local needs, especially in countries that do not have experienced National Promotional Institutions (NPIs) or NPBs; considers that links with other local providers should be enhanced to take this into account;

40.  Expects the EIAH to conclude its recruitment processes and reach its full staffing levels without further delay; expresses doubts, however, that the staff capacity provided for will be sufficient for the EIAH to provide the required advisory services and to cope with an increased workload, as well as a broader mandate;

41.  Stresses that the EIAH needs to enhance the profile of its services, improve communication and raise awareness and understanding of its activities amongst EIAH stakeholders; considers that all relevant communication channels should be deployed to achieve this purpose, including at national and local level;

European Investment Project Portal (EIPP)

42.  Regrets that the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) was only launched by the Commission on 1 June 2016, almost a year after the adoption of the EFSI Regulation; notes that the portal is now operational, with 139 projects currently displayed, but considers that this is still very far from the potential expected when the EFSI Regulation was adopted;

43.  Considers that the EIPP provides a user-friendly platform for project promoters to boost the visibility of their investment projects in a transparent manner; believes, however, that the key to the success of the portal is to increase its own visibility significantly, in order to achieve common acknowledgement as a useful, reliable and efficient tool both among investors and project promoters; urges the Commission to work actively in this direction through solid communication activities;

44.  Notes that the costs related to the set-up and development, management, support and maintenance, and hosting of the EIPP are currently covered by the EU budget, within the annual allocation of EUR 20 million provided for for the EIAH; recalls, however, that the fees charged to private project promoters registering their project on the portal shall constitute external assigned revenue for the EIPP and in the future will be its main source of financing;

Guarantee

45.  Recalls that the Union provides an irrevocable and unconditional guarantee to the EIB for financing and investment operations under EFSI; is convinced that the EU Guarantee has enabled the EIB to take on higher risk for the Infrastructure and Investment Window (IIW) and has permitted the financing of SMEs, mid-caps under COSME and InnovFin supported by the SME Window (SMEW) to be enhanced and frontloaded; believes that the threshold of EUR 25 million, that seems to be used by the EIB for its normal lending operations, should not be applicable to EFSI, in order to increase the financing of smaller projects and facilitate access for SMEs and other potential beneficiaries;

46.  Stresses that, due to a very strong uptake reflecting the high market demand, the SME Window was further reinforced by EUR 500 million from the IIW Debt Portfolio under the existing legislative framework; welcomes that, due to the flexibility of the EFSI Regulation, the additional financing was granted to benefit SMEs and small mid-caps; intends to monitor closely the allocation of the guarantee under the two windows; notes further that, as of 30 June 2016, signed operations under the IIW reached only 9 % of the total targeted volume;

47.  Recalls that the EU Guarantee Fund is predominantly funded from the EU budget; takes account of all relevant evaluations suggesting that the current provisioning rate of the Guarantee Fund of 50 % appears to be cautious and prudent in terms of covering potential losses and that the Union budget would already be shielded by an adjusted target rate of 35 %; intends to examine whether proposals for a lower target rate would have repercussions on the quality and nature of the projects selected; stresses that, so far, there have been no calls as a result of defaults of EIB or EIF operations;

Future financing, fund capacity

48.  Notes that the Commission has proposed an extension of EFSI, both in terms of duration and financial capacity, and that this would have an impact on the EU budget; expresses its intention to put forward alternative financing proposals;

49.  Recalls that Member States were invited to contribute to EFSI in order to broaden its capacity, thereby enabling it to support more higher-risk investments; regrets that despite such investment being considered as a one-off measure within the meaning of Article 5 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1466/97 of 7 July 1997 on the strengthening of the surveillance of budgetary provisions and the surveillance and coordination of economic policies and Article 3 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1467/97 of 7 July 1997 on speeding up and clarifying the implementation of the excessive deficit procedure, Member States did not take this initiative; requests information from the EIB and the Commission as to whether they have undertaken efforts in the meantime to convince Member States to contribute to EFSI, and whether they might be able to attract other investors; invites the Commission and the EIB to step up their efforts in this direction;

Complementarities with other EU financing sources

50.  Notes that awareness of overlaps and competition between EFSI and financial instruments of the EU budget on the part of the Commission and the EIB has led to the adoption of guidelines recommending the combination of EFSI and ESI Fund financing; underlines that any combination of EFSI and ESI Fund financing should in no way prove detrimental to the level and orientation of ESI Fund grant financing; points, however, to persistent differences in the eligibility criteria, regulations, timeframe for reporting and the application of state aid rules, which hinder combined usage; welcomes the fact that the Commission has begun to address these in its proposal for a revision of the Financial Regulation and hopes this revision will be performed in a timely manner so as to simplify the combination of financing and avoid competition and overlaps; believes that further efforts are required and that the second and third pillars of the investment plan are key to this end;

51.  Suggests that the Commission should, in its regular reports, list the projects that benefit from blending Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) grants with EFSI;

52.  Notes that public-private partnership (PPP) transport infrastructure projects should normally be based on the user-pays principle in order to reduce the burden imposed on public budgets and taxpayers for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure; notes that it is important to coordinate various types of EU funding in order to ensure that EU transport policy objectives are met across the entire EU, and not to promote PPP-type funds at the expense of Structural Funds;

Taxation

53.  Is deeply concerned that, in some cases, the EIB has been pushing via EFSI to support projects that have been structured using firms in tax havens; urges the EIB and the EIF to refrain from making use of or engaging in tax avoidance structures, in particular aggressive tax planning schemes, or practices which do not comply with EU good governance principles on taxation, as set out in the relevant Union legislation, including Commission recommendations and communications; insists that no project or promoter can be dependent on a person or company operating in a country included on the prospective common EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions;

Communication and visibility

54.  Observes that many project promoters are not aware of the existence of EFSI, or have an insufficiently clear picture of what EFSI can offer them, the specific eligibility criteria and the concrete steps to take when applying for financing; underlines that further efforts, including targeted technical support, in their respective EU language, in Member States that have benefited less from EFSI, , have to be made to raise awareness of what EFSI is, which specific products and services it has to offer and of the roles of investment platforms and NPBs;

55.  Calls for all information material and all material pertaining to the financing procedure to be translated into all the languages of the Member States, in order to facilitate information and access at local level;

56.  Expresses concern that the direct support given to financial intermediaries, which are then responsible for the allocation of EU financing, might lead to situations in which the end beneficiary is not aware of benefiting from EFSI financing and calls for solutions to be found to improve EFSI’s visibility; calls, therefore, on the EIB to include in EFSI contracts a specific clause making it clear to the project promoter that the financing received has been made possible by the EFSI/EU budget;

Extension

57.  Acknowledges that EFSI alone – and on a limited scale – will probably not be able to close the investment gap in Europe, but that it nevertheless constitutes a central pillar of the EU’s investment plan and signals the EU’s determination to tackle this issue; calls for further proposals to be made on how to permanently boost investment in Europe;

°

°  °

58.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the parliaments and governments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ L 169, 1.7.2015, p. 1.

(2)

http://www.eib.org/attachments/strategies/efsi_2015_report_ep_council_en.pdf

(3)

http://www.eib.org/attachments/ev/ev_evaluation_efsi_en.pdf, September 2016

(4)

Report of 14 November 2016, https://ec.europa.eu/priorities/sites/beta-political/files/ey-report-on-efsi_en.pdf

(5)

OJ C 465/1, 13.12.2016.


OPINION of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (*) (6.4.2017)

for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Rapporteur (*): Marian-Jean Marinescu

(*) Associated committee – Rule 54 of the Rules of Procedure

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy calls on the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committees responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into their motion for a resolution:

1.  Welcomes the swift implementation of EFSI and its expected mobilised investment of the operations approved by the EIB and the EIF, which amounts to over EUR 160 billion and accounts for over 50 % of the total target investment to be mobilised by 2018; recalls, however, that the difference between signatures and disbursements should be taken into consideration; notes furthermore that only around 60 % of the expected total investment mobilised by EFSI derives from private finance, with the rest coming from the EIB (20-25 % on average) and from a combination of resources from National Promotional Banks, public authorities and EU funds (ESIF, CEF);

2.  Recalls that all information available confirms the expected mobilisation of EFSI investment but stresses that it is crucial for the decision-makers to know what volumes have already been transferred to companies; considers that calculating the percentage of private investment disbursed is key when assessing the performance of EFSI; considers that for the transparency of data provided by the EIB and the Commission the publication of the disbursed amount would be very important;

3.  Notes that there is still an investment gap in the EU and acknowledges that EFSI can contribute to closing it; underlines that the aim of EFSI is to support sustainable projects that boost the real economy and also create long-term environmental and societal benefits while ensuring additionality and quality, rather than maximising leverage factors or investment speed and volumes;

4  Regrets the lack of real-time information on the amount of used guarantee; notes that several evaluations indicate a leverage effect of 14.1; calls on the EFSI Steering Board to make the real-time multiplier public and to use the OECD calculation methodology;

5.  Notes that as at 31 January 2017 the main beneficiaries were: in absolute terms, Italy, Spain, France, the UK and Germany (more than 60 % of the total mobilised investment); per capita, Finland, Ireland, Estonia, Spain and Italy: and in terms of GDP (in EUR million), Estonia, Bulgaria, Spain, Lithuania and Portugal;

6.  Notes that, according to an independent evaluation(1), up to the end of June 2016 EU-15 Member States received more than 90 % of EFSI support while the 13 new Member States received less than 10 %; regrets the unbalanced geographical allocation of EFSI support to date, and recalls that three Member States should not account for more than 45 % of total funding under the EFSI Infrastructure and Innovation Window (IIW); calls, therefore, on the EFSI Steering Board to continuously monitor and improve the geographical spread, promoting balance and improving productivity and sustainability in all Member State economies;

7.  Considers that blending EU grants with financial instruments may contribute EFSI additionality; notes that only 11 projects under the IIW and two under the SMEW, corresponding to nine Member States, benefited from blended EFSI/ESIF funding; encourages a timely adoption of the revision of the Financial Regulation and Omnibus Regulation that would allow the simplification of the combined ESIF and EFSI funds, in order to avoid competition and overlaps and to ensure complementarity and promote further synergies;

8.  Notes that, under the two windows, 30 % of the EFSI funding was used for SMEs, 23 % in the energy sector (only 7 % for energy efficiency), 21 % for RDI and 10 % for the digital sector; recalls that additionality is a key principle for projects to receive EFSI support, and regrets the lack of information regarding the level of additionality of the projects funded as well as the detailed scoreboard assessment; recalls that the scoreboard has to be a helpful decision-making tool; calls for transparency regarding the scoring and assessment system, and requests its early publication once a project evaluation has been made; stresses that full compliance with the additionality criteria and the appropriate due diligence procedure is needed before support is granted; considers, moreover, that sectorial diversification should be improved;

9.  Stresses the need to revise the current definition of additionality by making it clearer and more effective; considers that additionality could be better assessed should the Investment Committee make the risk profile of each EFSI project available; recalls that the current regulation enabled the possibility of projects with lower-than-minimum risk than EIB Special Activities; calls on the EIB to ensure real additionality, and considers that EFSI should take on board only projects that the EIB would otherwise consider as unacceptable owing to their risky nature, and that EFSI should not lead to rebranding of projects, such as, for example, the broad EFSI support provided for energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects, which has been accompanied by a corresponding reduction in ordinary EIB investment in those sectors; calls for transparency in the decision-making procedure by ensuring public disclosure of aggregated financial data related to EIB-funded projects;10.  Points to the need to increase the percentage of resources allocated to long-term projects such as telecommunications networks or to projects involving a relatively high degree of risk typically associated with more advanced emerging new technologies; notes that investment in broadband infrastructure and 5G, cybersecurity, the digitalisation of the traditional economy, micro-electronics and high-performance computing (HPC) could further reduce the digital divide;

11.  Regrets that despite the fact that the characteristics of investments in sectors such as space or emission reductions technologies should match the requirements of EFSI, very few projects have been financed under the EFSI umbrella in these sectors so far, and considers that EFSI should be adapted to the constraints of these sectors;

12.  Considers it important, in view of the fact that the objective of EFSI is to allocate funds to high-risk projects, that in cases where the region where the project is being carried out or from which the beneficiary comes has a low level of development, this is counted as an additional risk factor;

13.  Maintains that, in order to improve EFSI’s performance at both national and regional level, there needs to be closer cooperation between the EIB, which runs EFSI, and National and Regional Promotional Banks or Institutions;

14.  Notes, however, that National or Regional Promotional Banks or Promotional Institutions are not equally well established in all Member States and that their limited geographical spread poses additional barriers to the geographical coverage of EFSI; considers that the establishment of National or Regional Promotional Banks or Institutions should be a high priority for Member States and EFSI so as to address regions where support is needed; calls on the EIB and the Commission to ensure that National and Regional Promotional Banks or Institutions are high on the priorities of the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) and that the necessary know-how and technical assistance are provided to Member States; calls on the Commission to encourage and support the establishment of National Promotional Banks in regions where their presence is limited, so as to boost small-scale projects and improve regional and sectorial diversification;

15.  Calls on the EIB, in view of the importance of allocating funds to projects and areas with a high risk factor, not to let the interest rate on funds granted in the form of loans turn into a deterrent and a burden for beneficiaries; also calls on the EIB to increase transparency regarding the interest rate and commission charged for EFSI projects across the Union, and to ensure that these do not become elements of discrimination amongst the different categories of beneficiaries or amongst regions;

16.  Emphasises the crucial role of the EIAH for the success of EFSI; points to its promising start, but notes with regret that it has not been able to function to its full extent so far; stresses that the necessary means should be provided for the EIAH, corresponding to a minimum of EUR 20 000 000 per annum, to cover its costs and enable it to perform and intensify its actions and services; emphasises, furthermore, the importance of solving the problem of staff shortage as quickly as possible in order for the EIAH to take up all of its assigned tasks and responsibilities;

17.  Calls on the EIAH to increase its presence in countries which have had difficulties in making us of EFSI and which lack the administrative capacity to submit viable projects, particularly cohesion countries; calls on the EIAH, furthermore, to provide specific advice in order to help given projects wherever there is a high degree of risk aversion or where the risk is fragmented among investors (as can be the case with, for example, with cross-border/multinational projects or long-term infrastructure/revenue-generating projects);

18.  Calls on the EIAH to collaborate with the appropriate national institutions in order to achieve a more balanced geographical and sectorial coverage; underlines the important responsibility of the EIAH to bring EFSI to the local level, as well as its role as a one-stop shop for technical and financial advice to identify, prepare and develop projects, and its mission to proactively aggregate small-scale projects and set up investment platforms; stresses that these tasks have not been sufficiently achieved and should be intensified over the coming period;

19.  Notes that investment platforms need more time to become operational; stresses their role in aggregating multiple smaller projects concerning the same topic or bundling and facilitating cross-border projects;

20.  Recalls that one of the aims of EFSI is to boost small-scale, innovative and risky projects by, amongst others, bundling them, possibly via investment platforms, into larger clusters which are more investment-ready; calls on the EIAH to envisage the establishment of decentralised regional clusters in order to better adapt to the specificities of a given sector or region, such as energy efficiency in south-eastern Europe;

21.  Calls on the EIB to strengthen its advisory capacity, and calls on the Commission to enhance its communication and dissemination efforts in order to increase the uptake of EFSI in all Member States and regions; regrets that many stakeholders are still unaware of EFSI, its possibilities or the ways to apply for EFSI support; notes, moreover, that in some cases beneficiaries have been oblivious to the fact that they were already enjoying EFSI support, notably due to a lack of transparency on the part of the financial intermediary who failed to inform them about EFSI support; believes that the lack of awareness on the availability of EFSI support, as well as the lack of awareness of actually benefiting from EFSI support are both missed opportunities for the EU; stresses the need, therefore, for a better communication and awareness-raising campaign;

22.  Calls for all information material and all material pertaining to the financing procedure to be translated into all the languages of the Member States, in order to facilitate information and access at local level;

23  Deplores the fact that, on account of EFSI, a series of budgetary lines were reduced for the period 2015-2020, negatively affecting programmes like Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility; considers that in the context of the MFF revision this budgetary deficit should be redressed and that EFSI should be financed from sources independent from EU programmes that have already been approved; asks the Commission to provide a full repayment schedule in this regard starting with the MFF revision;

24.  Reiterates the importance of focusing on the financial instruments for feeding the extension of EFSI (EFSI II); considers that financing through EFSI should not replace grants from EU funding sources such as ESIF, CEF and Horizon 2020; calls on the Commission to identify alternative sources of financing for any future extension;

25.  Stresses the need for transparency in the application of the scoreboard for selection of EFSI operations, especially the need for accessible, accurate and updated information concerning additionality and the decision-making process for granting the EU guarantee; calls on the EIB to publish all information on impact assessment findings related to operations carried out on the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP), stating the added value and additionality of each funded project; believes that the EIB should publish analytical data for each funded project, including EFSI lending through financial intermediaries, giving ex ante and ex post assessments of each project, with an explanation of the selection and assessment indicators and criteria used; considers, finally, that objective figures need to be published on the direct and indirect jobs created through EFSI; urges the Commission to increase the potential and the visibility of the EIPP;

26.  Is of the opinion that before the adoption of the proposed EFSI extension a more in-depth study and further evaluation of the original EFSI regulation would have been desirable; expects that the conclusions of this report, especially regarding regional diversification, sectorial diversification, additionality, transparency of the selection process of the steering and investment committees, and the recommendations of the Court of Auditors will be duly taken into consideration in the final elaboration of the Regulation extending the EFSI.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

3.4.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

49

2

0

Members present for the final vote

Bendt Bendtsen, Xabier Benito Ziluaga, José Blanco López, Reinhard Bütikofer, Jerzy Buzek, Edward Czesak, Ashley Fox, Adam Gierek, Theresa Griffin, Rebecca Harms, Eva Kaili, Kaja Kallas, Krišjānis Kariņš, Seán Kelly, Jeppe Kofod, Jaromír Kohlíček, Peter Kouroumbashev, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Edouard Martin, Angelika Mlinar, Csaba Molnár, Dan Nica, Angelika Niebler, Morten Helveg Petersen, Herbert Reul, Paul Rübig, Massimiliano Salini, Algirdas Saudargas, Neoklis Sylikiotis, Dario Tamburrano, Patrizia Toia, Evžen Tošenovský, Vladimir Urutchev, Martina Werner, Lieve Wierinck, Hermann Winkler, Anna Záborská, Flavio Zanonato, Carlos Zorrinho

Substitutes present for the final vote

Pilar Ayuso, Rosa D’Amato, Françoise Grossetête, Barbara Kudrycka, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Victor Negrescu, Sofia Sakorafa, Davor Škrlec, Theodor Dumitru Stolojan

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

György Hölvényi, Julia Reda

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

49

+

ALDE

Kaja Kallas, Angelika Mlinar, Morten Helveg Petersen, Lieve Wierinck

ECR

Edward Czesak, Ashley Fox, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Evžen Tošenovský

GUE/NGL

Xabier Benito Ziluaga, Jaromír Kohlíček, Sofia Sakorafa, Neoklis Sylikiotis

PPE

Pilar Ayuso, Bendt Bendtsen, Jerzy Buzek, Françoise Grossetête, György Hölvényi, Krišjānis Kariņš, Seán Kelly, Barbara Kudrycka, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Angelika Niebler, Herbert Reul, Paul Rübig, Massimiliano Salini, Algirdas Saudargas, Theodor Dumitru Stolojan, Vladimir Urutchev, Hermann Winkler, Anna Záborská

S&D

José Blanco López, Adam Gierek, Theresa Griffin, Eva Kaili, Jeppe Kofod, Peter Kouroumbashev, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Edouard Martin, Csaba Molnár, Victor Negrescu, Dan Nica, Patrizia Toia, Martina Werner, Flavio Zanonato, Carlos Zorrinho

Verts/ALE

Reinhard Bütikofer, Rebecca Harms, Julia Reda, Davor Škrlec

2

-

EFDD

Rosa D’Amato, Dario Tamburrano

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

(1)

Independent evaluation of the Investment Plan by EY 2016, available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/independent-evaluation-investment-plan_en


OPINION of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (*) (23.3.2017)

for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Rapporteurs (*): Inés Ayala Sender and Dominique Riquet

(*)  Associated committee – Rule 54 of the Rules of Procedure

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Transport and Tourism calls on the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committees responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into their joint motion for a resolution:

1.  Asks the Commission to take into account the remarks made by Parliament in this implementation report when making the assessment and drafting the new legislative proposal;

2.  Welcomes the establishment of the EFSI bodies and the transparent selection procedure for members of their governance structure; invites the EFSI bodies, however, to inform Parliament, the Council and the public regularly, in detail and in a more transparent way about the EFSI projects; suggests that the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) should enhance its information to SMEs and micro-enterprises, among others;

3.  Welcomes the Strategic Orientation approved by the EFSI Steering Board in December 2015, which includes indicative geographical concentration limits; notes an unbalanced geographical distribution among beneficiaries of the EFSI; notes that during the first year of operations 92 % of all investment was concentrated in the EU-15 while only 8 % reached the EU-13 and that, to date, 10 Member States, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, have benefited from operations only under the SME Window (SMEW) of EFSI; recalls that the GDP ratio criterion is relevant, among other things to ensure economic, social and territorial cohesion, with a view to ensuring a balanced spread of projects, taking into account the overall economic activity of each country, the need for investments and the level of employment; underlines that the concentration of capital widens social and economic disparities in the EU;

4.  Points out that high-risk investments cannot be imposed and, in a low-growth-rate and low-demand environment, are mostly not worthwhile; calls, accordingly, in addition to balanced geographical distribution, for EFSI funding to be more closely tied to successful developments in economic and fiscal policy;

5.  Regrets the lack of concentration limits in the initial ramp-up phase; recalls that the transport sector has made the largest contribution to the EFSI Fund, with EUR 2.2 billion out of EUR 8 billion, representing more than 25 % of the total guarantee fund; notes with concern that the transport sector has received only around 13 % of all the investment mobilised and made available to date under the EFSI’s infrastructure and innovation window, which is far from the 30 % limit established for each specific sector; calls on the Investment Committee to pay particular attention to transport sector projects, since these are still very poorly represented in the investment portfolio and transport plays a significant role in economic growth and consumer safety;

6.  Encourages the Commission to introduce rules for the selection of sustainable projects, linking them to the main EU policy goals and targets, such as zero- and low-emissions mobility, or to existing initiatives such as the trans-European cycling networks combined with rail travel or initiatives that aim to re-establish regional cross-border rail links that have been abandoned or dismantled(1);

7.  Recalls that the results of the scoreboard assessment of both approved and rejected operations must be made public in a transparent and accessible way and on a regular basis;

8.  Expresses doubts about the additionality of some of the first transport projects selected as they could most probably have been financed without the EFSI;

9.  Recognises that infrastructure projects submitted to the EIB often come under traditional EIB operations as they are submitted by authorities backed with public guarantees, and hence presenting a lower risk; calls on the EIB to analyse other parameters which would enable such projects to qualify as additional and suitable for the EFSI, as well as to strengthen the promotion of EFSI opportunities among private partners in order to genuinely increase the number of projects under this initial EFSI call;

10.  Asks for European Added Value to be considered in the selection process and for the EFSI to be in line with EU policy goals, in particular cross-border projects and other projects pre-identified in the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and other EU flagship initiatives in the field of transport (such as ERTMS and SESAR); underlines that other Union policy priorities, such as zero- and low-emissions intermodal mobility, high-quality employment, resource efficiency, sustainable infrastructures, research and innovation, and synergies between trans-European transport, energy and telecommunications networks should be taken into account;

11.  Urges the Commission to focus on investing in projects that contribute to minimising external costs;

12.  Considers that blending EU grants with financial instruments can also ensure the additionality required and will mobilise investors to submit projects that otherwise might not have been carried out; asks the EIB and the Commission to promote the blending of EU grants (various EU mechanisms such as CEF, H2020, European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)) with the EFSI in order to improve the infrastructure projects’ financial profile providing European Added Value;

13.  Notes that public-private partnership (PPP) transport infrastructure projects should usually be based on the user-pays principle in order to reduce the burden imposed on public budgets and taxpayers for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure; notes that it is important to coordinate various types of EU funding in order to ensure that EU transport policy objectives are met across the entire EU, and not to promote PPP-type funds at the expense of Structural Funds;

14.  Underlines the promising start to the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) and acknowledges the sectorial and geographical concentration of investments so far; calls on the EIAH to improve its overall performance and increase its presence in countries in which the EFSI has had difficulties taking hold and where there is a lack of administrative capacity to submit viable projects, in particular in cohesion countries; calls on the EIAH, furthermore, to provide specific advice in order to help specific transport projects wherever there is high risk aversion or the risk is fragmented among investors (such as cross border/multinational projects, long term/revenue infrastructure projects);

15.  Believes that in order to improve the performance of the EFSI at both national and regional level and the added value for Europe, there is a need to step up cooperation between the EIB, which steers the EFSI, and the national and regional promotional banks, as well as with local authorities;

16.  Notes with concern that the small number of transport projects in the EFSI would seem to be evidence of this sector’s difficulty in obtaining funding mostly or exclusively from private investors, even where CEF funding has been almost exhausted and no alternative EU funding is available until 2020; calls, therefore, for CEF funding to be boosted under the next financial framework;

17.  Deplores the lack of data available on the total amount of the signed operations under the ‘SME Window’ of the EFSI and related investments, especially with regard to the transport supply chain, in aeronautics and in the railway sector, and the fact that this makes the verification of projects, results, success stories and benchmarks difficult; insists that the problem of lack of available data be rectified; calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to providing more support to SMEs as well as local and regional authorities;

18.  Suggests that the Commission should, in its regular reports, list the projects that benefit from blending CEF grants with the EFSI;

19.  Recommends raising the profile of EFSI funding by taking firm EU-wide action through an information campaign and by launching an EFSI logo.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

23.3.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

36

2

0

Members present for the final vote

Lucy Anderson, Inés Ayala Sender, Georges Bach, Deirdre Clune, Michael Cramer, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Ismail Ertug, Jacqueline Foster, Tania González Peñas, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Merja Kyllönen, Miltiadis Kyrkos, Peter Lundgren, Gesine Meissner, Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar, Jens Nilsson, Markus Pieper, Gabriele Preuß, Christine Revault D’Allonnes Bonnefoy, Dominique Riquet, Massimiliano Salini, Jill Seymour, Claudia Țapardel, Keith Taylor, Pavel Telička, István Ujhelyi, Wim van de Camp, Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi, Janusz Zemke, Roberts Zīle, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska

Substitutes present for the final vote

Hugues Bayet, Mark Demesmaeker, Bas Eickhout, Markus Ferber, Patricija Šulin, Matthijs van Miltenburg

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Herbert Dorfmann

(1)

www.missing-rail-links.eu


OPINION of the Committee on International Trade (10.11.2016)

for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Rapporteur: Emmanuel Maurel

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on International Trade calls on the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committees responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into their motion for a resolution:

1.  Believes that the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which is used to finance risky and innovative projects, can be used as a tool to boost growth and employment in the EU and promote the development of strong, sustainable and competitive industry provided that it is deployed simultaneously with effective trade defence instruments; in this regard calls for increasing EFSI’s role in the cohesion agenda through improvement of the sectoral and geographical balance of the investments done under this frame; takes the view that barriers to combining EFSI with other EU instruments (mainly ESIF) should be removed and EFSI’s eligible sectors need to be expanded;

2.  Recalls that China is planning to contribute to the EFSI and that the Commission pointed out that China will not be given any quid pro quo in particular as concerns governance; underlines that any contribution by China must not be linked to the question of market economy status and calls on the EIB to ensure transparency in the funds management and as regards the origin of any public, private and third-party contribution, and to provide concrete data, including on specific projects and on foreign investors and highlights the reporting requirements to the Parliament in the EFSI regulation; reiterates the fact that all possible future third-country contributors have to meet all EU rules on public procurement, labour law and environmental regulations and expects that social and environmental criteria applicable to EIB projects are fully upheld in EFSI project financing decisions;

3.  Considers it imperative that the EU diversify its funding sources as far as possible and attract private investment first and foremost;

4.  Points out that SMEs constitute the backbone of the European economy but that only 13 % of SMEs trade outside the EU; takes the view that the EFSI, in synergy with the COSME programme, should give priority to the internationalisation of SMEs through supporting concrete projects aimed at the export activities of European SMEs; reiterates its call for improving the existing tools and calls for better communication by the Commission and the EIB about available support and for strengthening the role of the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) by giving it an export aid mission; considers that SMEs must be able to benefit from a regular interlocutor as concerns these issues;

5.  Welcomes the Commission initiative on launching the European External Investment Plan (EEIP) in order to mobilise between EUR 44 and EUR 88 billion in investments in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood while acknowledging the role of private investment in development strategies; stresses that these instruments should be regularly evaluated and should not take the place of existing investments, must comply with the principle of policy coherence for development as well as with the additionality principle in respect of other instruments and should be targeted towards risky, structuring and, where possible, small-scale projects and orientated towards the true needs of specific countries in order to provide tangible improvements to the living conditions of the local population via the local creation of decent jobs; and thereby contributing to alleviating the migration crisis;

6.  Insists, in connection with the external investment plan, that no project investor or promoter can be dependent on a person or company operating in a country included in the prospective European list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions;

7.  Takes the view that tools of that kind have to be compatible with the principles and objectives of EU external action as set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union , and that compliance with those principles has to be included together with achieved results as among the most important criteria in the assessment of the efficiency of the EEIP in reports on its implementation; stresses that the future EEIP should encourage private investment in Africa and EU-Neighbourhood countries in order to contribute to tackling the root causes of migration, the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Accord;

8.  Suggests that the EEIP helps fund microcredit activities for the most vulnerable groups;

9.  Highlights the major potential role of European External Action Service delegations in establishing contacts between investors and countries that are project beneficiary countries; calls for Parliament to be closely involved in monitoring the implementation of the external investment plan on the basis of regular Commission progress reports.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

9.11.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

33

0

4

Members present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Maria Arena, Tiziana Beghin, David Borrelli, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Caspary, Salvatore Cicu, Santiago Fisas Ayxelà, Christofer Fjellner, Karoline Graswander-Hainz, Ska Keller, Jude Kirton-Darling, Bernd Lange, David Martin, Anne-Marie Mineur, Sorin Moisă, Alessia Maria Mosca, Franz Obermayr, Artis Pabriks, Franck Proust, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández, Marietje Schaake, Helmut Scholz, Joachim Schuster, Joachim Starbatty, Adam Szejnfeld, Hannu Takkula, Iuliu Winkler, Jan Zahradil

Substitutes present for the final vote

Klaus Buchner, Nicola Danti, Syed Kamall, Frédérique Ries, Fernando Ruas, Jarosław Wałęsa

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Philippe Loiseau


OPINION of the Committee on Budgetary Control (12.4.2017)

for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Rapporteur: Hannu Takkula

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Budgetary Control calls on the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committees responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into their motion for a resolution:

A.  whereas the Investment Plan for Europe is part of a broader strategy aimed at reversing the negative trend observed in public and private investment by mobilising new and private financial liquidity to be injected into the real economy with a view to fostering long-term strategic and sustainable investments across the Union; whereas the Investment Plan has three pillars: mobilising finance for investment, ensuring that investment reaches the real economy and improving the investment environment in the Union; whereas, for the purposes of geographical diversification, it is essential that the investment environment in the Union is improved by removing barriers to investment; whereas the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) should be seen as a complement to other actions needed to reduce investment gaps in the Union and, by acting as a guarantee fund, as a stimulus for new investment;

B.  whereas the EFSI was initially designed to address various forms of market failure and sub-optimal investment situations arising from a number of regulatory difficulties;

C.  whereas the EFSI is a significant tool for contributing to economic, social and territorial cohesion as well as supporting job opportunities, namely by providing solid support to SMEs;

D.  whereas it is important that the EFSI provides appropriate contributions in order to adequately respond to market needs and successfully attract significant private sector capital;

E.  whereas the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has published an opinion which found that ‘European Commission plans to increase and extend the investment fund at the heart of the ‘Juncker Plan’ were drawn up too soon and with little evidence that the increase is justified’; whereas the ECA has also stated that ‘the Proposal was launched without a comprehensive impact assessment’ and has criticised ‘the deletion of the provision linking the continuation of EFSI to the results of an independent evaluation’;

F.  whereas the ECA also emphasised ‘the risk that the multiplier effect is overstated’, and that the objectives and results cited were projections and not confirmed by tangible, accurate, clear and up-to-date statistics;

1.  Notes that the EFSI aims at leveraging through the European Investment Bank (EIB), with support from the EU budget, a total of EUR 315 billion in extra investment and new projects in the real economy by 2018; reiterates that the EFSI is a tool for stimulating private, market-based investments;

2.  Notes the EIB’s evaluation on the functioning of the EFSI published in September 2016; welcomes the positive investment flows that the EFSI has directed to SMEs, noting that 58 % of the SME funding target was reached as early as June 2016; welcomes the ECA’s opinion (2/2016) entitled ‘EFSI: an early proposal to extend and expand’ concerning the Commission proposal to extend the EFSI (COM(2016)0597) and its evaluation on the use of the EU guarantee and the functioning of the Guarantee Fund (SWD(2016)0297);

3.  Recalls that all EFSI-supported projects should meet the additionality criteria and that the basis for this assessment should be documented; regrets that the scoreboards for the approved operations are not published; recalls that this failure to publish creates both accountability and transparency issues; stresses that more transparency and publicity on the criteria of major EFSI projects are required in order to increase the trust and attractiveness of markets for the EFSI as an efficient funding tool;

4.  Recalls that the objective of the EFSI, which is supported by the EU budget unlike other current EIB financing instruments, is to identify distinct, truly additional and innovative and riskier project profiles along with new counterparts from the private sector, as well as to highlight its potential to fund high technology enterprises and future-oriented sectors, which should be at the core of the funding programme;

5.  Acknowledges that the launch of the EFSI has rapidly changed the EIB’s profile and business model in terms of processes and monitoring of signatures and contracts;

6.  Considers that in order to adequately respond to the investment demand and to better address the needs of countries and sectors, it would be appropriate to conduct a preliminary analysis at national level into the possible causes of the market and private investment gaps in the sectors and type of activity assigned to the EFSI;

7.  Highlights that it is crucial to consider and enhance cross-border European added value in the implementation of the selected projects and to ask whether they make an effective contribution to the existing EU common policy and economic objectives;

8.  Notes that the geographical distribution of projects has hitherto been uneven; recalls that for the benefit of cohesion and sustainability objectives, a better geographical spread should be considered in implementing the EFSI pipeline, taking into account the potential of sparsely populated areas in the EU, while focusing on feasibility, practicability and financial criteria in order to improve fund performance and enhance primary fund objectives; recalls that as a market-based instrument the EFSI cannot alone tackle geographical investment gaps in the Union;

9.  Urges the EFSI Steering Board and the Investment Committee to ensure that funding for projects is not concentrated in markets or investments where it is less obvious or needed;

10.  Recalls that the Infrastructure and Innovation Window had reached only 9 % of the target by June 2016; encourages further information-sharing about the possibilities the EFSI offers for riskier innovations;

11.  Asks the EIB to improve the geographical balance as far as possible and open up the sectors concentrated in the EFSI portfolio, namely under the Infrastructure and Innovation Window (IIW) and the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Window (SMEW), by enhancing its advisory activities for project design in Member States and technical assistance through the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH), including the possibility of increasing its budget when justified;

12.  Calls on the EIB to simplify the application process, and stresses the need to strengthen the visibility of, interest in and awareness about the EFSI, especially for SMEs in the Member States;

13.  Invites the EIB to also consider expanding the number of sectors eligible for EFSI funding (to include, for example, the environment, bio-economy or social infrastructure) or better adapting the type and size of the projects to market needs in the Member States;

14.  Believes that adequate clarification or strategic guidance should be provided for local and regional actors, particularly with regard to the EFSI’s objectives, positioning and possible combination with other Union or EIB funds; points out that the EFSI should not merely be considered as another additional financial source and that due care should be devoted to avoiding double targeting or double funding;

15.  Calls on the EIB to carefully consider, during the selection process, real additionality and new dynamics as well as the magnitude of the multiplier effect, which might vary from project to project, in particular in fields where the EIB or the EIF were not already engaged, in cases of market failure or in sub-optimal investment situations;

16.  Welcomes the increase in volume of the EIB’s special activities resulting from the first year and a half of the EFSI, which reflects an evolution of the EIB’s prudent risk culture and lending policy;

17.  Believes that EIB special activities supported by the EFSI should be considered as vectors of additionality compared to other EIB, EIF or Union financial instruments, in order to better address market failures or sub-optimal investment situations;

18.  Considers that leveraging varies from project to project depending on their scale, complexity and the correlation between important sectoral challenges and the final beneficiaries’ expectations against a background of scarce public funds; takes the view that the assumption of any average leverage effect can only be measured at the end of the investment cycle while taking the specific features of sectors into account; proposes that the EFSI Multiplier Methodology be aligned with the methodology suggested by the OECD, taking into account investment projects to which investors committed or which form part of national programmes that were already in existence or announced before the EFSI was launched;

19.  Calls on the EIB to provide further information on the leverage effect by operation and not only on an average basis, while also showing the magnitude of private funding attracted; considers, furthermore, that the effectiveness of interventions should be assessed on the basis of the potential of financial instruments, while also taking account of the quantifiable results obtainable;

20.  Stresses the importance of not financing projects that would otherwise have been financed without EFSI support, as doing so would narrow down the finance condition of the projects which genuinely need EFSI finance; calls, therefore, on the EIB, and in particular the EFSI Investment Committee, to pay particular attention to the key principle of additionality its understanding, interpretation and implementation, in order to avoid making any unfair changes to markets;

21.  Notes that additionality may prove challenging as a measurement, so other requirements, such as innovativeness, should be given equal importance when selecting projects to fund;

22.  Asks that complete and relevant qualitative management information be provided on the implementation of the EFSI’s stated objectives, showing their effective additionality and impact compared with benchmarks, but also with a view to extension of the EFSI beyond 2017;

23.  Takes the view that relevant qualitative management information should be provided for each project covered by the EFSI guarantee, based on monitoring or additionality indicators in order to evaluate the added value and effectiveness or the contribution to EU policies; asks the EIB to include in its reporting an assessment of the quality of the operations, their risk exposure and their management costs;

24.  Considers it important for the mobilisation of private-sector capital that the EIB relieve investors of some of the risks posed by potential projects; invites the EIB to enhance both the EFSI’s attractiveness and its visibility in the investment guidelines and projects to be funded by further developing a more effective policy for raising awareness among potential private investors and project promoters at local and regional levels;

25.  Insists, for accountability purposes, on the development of result-driven investments to be regularly assessed through the scoreboard of indicators by the Investment Committee, with a view to identifying projects that are well-targeted in terms of their effective macroeconomic impact or stimulatory effect on growth and job creation, and calls for an objective overview of the additionality and added value of these projects, as well as their consistency with Union policies or other classical EIB operations;

26.  Asks the EIB to disclose full information on how projects receiving the EFSI guarantee scored when measured against the EFSI scoreboard of indicators and related criteria and weightings, including, inter alia, their contribution to the EFSI objectives, additionality, economic and technical viability and the maximisation of private investment;

27.  Urges improvement of the transparency of the operations selection process and disclosure of all operational information on signed operations through the scoreboard of indicators, as well as the accountability of operations; considers, furthermore, that consultation with local and regional authorities should be enhanced and duly documented during assessment of the projects;

28.  Asks for governance arrangements to be streamlined so as to better define the respective responsibilities of the Commission and the EIB, to ensure independence, to prevent conflicts of interests of the various actors participating in the decision-making process, especially the members of the EFSI Investment Committee, and to establish for accountability purposes who is responsible to the EU budgetary and legislative authorities for the performance and risk management of the EFSI;

29.  Stresses that transparency and tax provisions should be increased and reinforced, in particular as regards the provision on tax avoidance;

30.  Reiterates that Parliament has a key role to play in monitoring the EFSI’s added value and additionality;

31.  Reiterates the ECA’s auditing role laid down in Article 20 of the EFSI Regulation; points to the ECA’s Opinion No 2/2016 entitled ‘on EFSI: an early proposal to extend and expand’’; notes with concern the ECA’s observation that there is little evidence for the proposed increase of the EU Guarantee; recalls that the ECA’s auditing rights laid down in Article 287 TFEU should be fully respected;

32.  Regrets that the proposal for the extension of the EFSI is not accompanied by an impact assessment as envisaged by the better regulation guidelines and an ex-ante evaluation as required by Articles 30 and 140 of the Financial Regulation for spending programmes and financial instruments; welcomes the Commission’s proposal (COM(2016)0597) to extend the duration of the EFSI; welcomes the proposed improvements to the EFSI Regulation; regrets the fact that the proposal was not accompanied by an impact assessment and does not respect the better regulation principles; recalls that, with a view to a possible post-2020 extension, the impact assessment should be carried out prior to the proposal being submitted to Parliament and the Council;

33.  Regrets the fact that the EFSI was considered as an exception to the requirement of the Financial Regulation, even though the EU budget provides most of the financing for the Guarantee Funds and the budgetary guarantee to the EIB creates significant contingent liabilities for the EU Budget;

34.  Notes that the impact of EFSI risk has been exaggerated; agrees with the ECA’s observation that the impact of financing the Guarantee Fund from the EU budget would have been lower if the Commission had adopted the same assumptions for the initial proposal of the EFSI;

35.  Asks for clarification on the application of state aid rules for projects combining finance from EFSI and from the Structural Funds.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

12.4.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

19

2

1

Members present for the final vote

Nedzhmi Ali, Jonathan Arnott, Inés Ayala Sender, Tamás Deutsch, Martina Dlabajová, Luke Ming Flanagan, Ingeborg Gräßle, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Jean-François Jalkh, Arndt Kohn, Bogusław Liberadzki, Fulvio Martusciello, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Claudia Schmidt, Bart Staes, Hannu Takkula, Indrek Tarand, Marco Valli, Derek Vaughan, Joachim Zeller

Substitutes present for the final vote

Julia Pitera, Miroslav Poche

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

19

+

ALDE

ENF

PPE

S&D

GREENS

Nedzhmi Ali, Martina Dlabajová, Hannu Takkula

Jean-François Jalkh

Tamás Deutsch, Ingeborg Gräßle, Fulvio Martusciello, Julia Pitera, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Claudia Schmidt, Joachim Zeller

Inés Ayala Sender, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Arndt Kohn, Bogusław Liberadzki, Miroslav Poche, Derek Vaughan

Bart Staes, Indrek Tarand

2

-

EFDD

Jonathan Arnott, Marco Valli

1

0

GUE/NGL

Luke Ming Flanagan

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention


OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (31.1.2017)

for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Rapporteur: Romana Tomc

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committees responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into their motion for a resolution:

1.  Believes that the main aim of projects financed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) should be to create sustainable growth and a labour market able to offer quality jobs in Europe and hence to enhance the well-being of EU citizens, social cohesion and inclusion; welcomes, therefore, the fact that the fund has already helped to afford better access to financing;

2.  Recalls that EFSI aims to fill existing gaps and suboptimal investment situations in the EU by using public funds in order to increase the availability of risk financing, as well as to mobilise private capital and ensure that the investments reach the real economy; believes that projects financed under EFSI should create long-term, innovation-led, sustainable and inclusive growth, stimulate the creation of jobs, including in areas of Europe where unemployment is high and problematic, and invest in sectors critical to Europe’s future, notably through social and human capital, European infrastructures and industry; stresses that all EFSI-supported projects should be based on the concept of additionality, meaning that they could not have been carried out without EFSI support; supports the EIB assessment, which asks for a better definition of additionality;

3.  Notes that EFSI has started functioning successfully, already delivering concrete results in some Member States and therefore acting as a positive instrument to overcome the lack of investment and to fight unemployment in Europe through coordinated action;

4.  Believes that EFSI could be an important step in demonstrating the effectiveness of making more innovative use of the EU budget, leveraging the EU budget to boost investment in the real economy; emphasises that it is too early to draw conclusions about its general effectiveness according to the European Court of Auditors (ECA);

5.  Is deeply concerned by the fact that the majority of EFSI investments are concentrated in the top five EU economies, thus creating further divergences; regrets that there are still a number of Member States where not a single EFSI project has been signed or approved;

6.  Emphasises that EFSI must be considered as an emergency plan and encourages the EIB to make the best use of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and Horizon 2020 (H2020) in a manner complementary to EFSI; points out that the EIB sometimes privileges EFSI over those programmes; recognises the importance of supporting the extension of EFSI’s lifetime beyond 2020 and of the necessary increase in the EU budget guarantee, but stresses the need for a comprehensive impact assessment in order to justify the increase proposed by the Commission;

7.  Calls for a reinforcement of both the additionality of the projects supported under EFSI to enhance geographical coverage and of take-up, particularly in areas with high levels of unemployment in order to have a strong impact on the employment figures; highlights the need to develop further investment in cross-border projects;

8.  Highlights that the investment situation in Europe is slowly improving, but that the pace is still timid and can be reversible; points out that investment levels are still below the pre-crisis level and the investment gap remains wide – in that sense, EFSI must be oriented to any kinds of project that lead to job creation and sustainable growth and development;

9.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the EIB Group to help SMEs, micro-enterprises and social enterprises to access funding more easily and thus increase their capacity to grow, implement projects and create quality jobs, by promoting EFSI more efficiently and by enabling better access to technical support at local level; notes that SME funding seems to be the most successful part of EFSI financing; notes that the success of the SME Window is due to frontloading other EU SME initiatives, but that there is an argument in favour of increasing this window if quality requirements are maintained; recommends that SMEs and micro-enterprises should be given access to information on the funding that is available;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB to continue their local/national campaigns to help explain and promote the benefits of the Investment Plan across the Union; welcomes the opening of new offices by the EIB in the Member States to provide more support and also enhance cooperation with National Promotional Banks (NPBs) contributing to the generation of more projects in areas with a high-level of unemployment that have been less covered so far;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB Group to increase their efforts and enhance the social and employment impact of EFSI, whilst maintaining its aim of helping to overcome the current investment gap in the EU by mobilising private financing for strategic investments;

12.  Welcomes the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Guarantee enhancement under the SME Window of EFSI as well as the development of the EFSI Equity Instrument focused on ensuring an adequate contribution to market development in areas such as social impact; calls for an ongoing commitment to the development of social entrepreneurship and social and solidarity economy to further broaden social, cultural and environmental goals in areas such as poverty alleviation, healthcare and community development;

13.  Calls on the Member States to develop national and regional platforms and to strengthen their cooperation with various stakeholders, including social partners, in order to streamline investments able to create quality jobs and improve economic, social and territorial cohesion, and to use EFSI, where appropriate, to make smart investments for the development of high-quality social, care and health services for their citizens; calls on the Commission, the EIB Group and the Member States to step up their efforts, build capacity, raise awareness, develop an appropriate ecosystem and increase the attractiveness of investment in social services such as education, training, healthcare and housing;

14.  Recalls that the strong interest and participation in EFSI projects by intermediary banks across the EU in order to provide finance to SMEs has been extremely successful;

15.  Calls on the Commission to work with the EFSI Steering Board to use all existing opportunities to reinforce this access to finance for SMEs in order to increase the overall volume of actions for these instruments;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB Group to enable EFSI to operate in closer conjunction with the Structural Funds and with various EU funds and financing instruments, such as the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF), the EaSI Programme, COSME, InnovaFin, the Progress Microfinance Facility and other relevant funds, but to avoid double financing and with the aim of ensuring optimal and effective financing in a more complementary manner; highlights that this articulation must be further simplified and administrative obstacles must be removed; calls, therefore, for adequate coordination between the relevant authorities and for the regions most affected by high unemployment and poverty also to be targeted in order to reduce inequalities by creating quality jobs and sustainable growth, fostering social inclusion and enhancing environmental sustainability; stresses that EFSI should fulfil a supplementary and complementary function in relation to cohesion policy;

17.  Highlights that initial results reveal that the Member States with greater technical and administrative capacity, as well as financial institutions, are taking greater advantage of EFSI; warns that this could lead to extending the gap between strong and weak regions; underlines that a greater role must be played by the EIB and the Commission in supporting those lagging behind through greater local technical assistance and enhancing the capacity of some countries to take advantage of EFSI;

18.  Maintains that, while there should be no regional or sectorial focus or pre-allocation when spending EFSI money, EFSI is being mainly concentrated in countries where the market gap in investment is less evident, which leads to the conclusion that not enough attention is being paid to genuinely addressing market gaps and labour market constraints; is of the opinion that EFSI should operate more efficiently with the Structural Funds to help weaker regions in overcoming barriers and considers that the development of a European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) that would act more locally, provide customised technical assistance and build capacity, would increase the number of applications;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB Group to engage more actively in consultation with Member States and stakeholders in cooperation with public authorities, public investment banks, as well as national promotional banks and social partners, especially in countries which to date have shown poor results in the take-up of the Fund; believes that EFSI should focus in particular on projects to reduce unemployment and projects focused on social investment in people’s current and future capacities to engage in the labour market, that have a high European added-value and contribute to achieving the objectives of the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and that promote cohesion and invest in human capital; considers it important that EFSI cover key sectors for the EU as well as the Treaty-based objectives of strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion and reducing regional disparities; maintains that successful projects reduce unemployment;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB Group to support Member States in increasing, in general as well as under EFSI to the extent possible, investment in projects aiming at social inclusion and enhancing environmental sustainability in the least inhabited, most remote and outermost regions suffering most from the crisis in order to reduce divergences, in particular in relation to unemployment and employment levels and those regions and countries with high unemployment and poverty rates, which are particularly disadvantaged by underinvestment in job opportunities, resulting in unemployment, social exclusion and emigration;

21.  Calls on the Commission to step up EFSI’s communication campaign and to increase awareness of EFSI by preparing information for SMEs to explain, in a simple and intelligible manner using specific examples, how they can obtain financing and the types of projects that are financed by EFSI;

22.  Recalls that EFSI remains without an assessment and analysis of the causes of the investment gap and market needs and how to best address them; calls on the Commission to provide the assessment in that sense; considers it more than disappointing that the Commission’s assessment of EFSI has failed to record the number, types and prospects of jobs created to date under the Fund and to assess its gender impact; calls on the Commission to put in place employment targets and to ensure that EFSI’s contribution to growth and jobs is adequately measured and monitored, to study and assess the impact of EFSI projects on the number of jobs created and the real impact of these investments in direct and indirect jobs and to record the results achieved through the Fund across both sectors and countries, with particular emphasis on SMEs;

23.  Recalls the importance of regularly releasing new figures and updates , including independent assessments, drawing on the experience gained so far; acknowledges the difficulties in assessing this component given the time needed for projects to mature and their impact to be assessed, and calls in this regard on the EIB Group to develop the best methods of collecting and appraising such results at the next evaluation, also taking into account the long-term impact beyond the duration of EFSI; believes that greater efforts must be made to establish performance-based indicators that measure the objectives and outputs of each project; welcomes the existence of Growth and Employment reports for the instruments deployed under the EFSI SME Window (SMEW) and of Social Impact reporting under the EaSI Guarantee financial instrument and EFSI SMEW social impact pilot instruments, and encourages the continued use of such reporting;

24.  Considers that cross-border infrastructure projects are key to the completion of the Single Market, as well as for enhancing employment opportunities; calls on the Commission and the EIAH to focus on providing technical support and on building capacity so as to boost the number of such projects and increase their quality and impact;

25.  Calls on the Member States to lay down more clear-cut national investment priorities including as regards job-creation and social investment and to draw up relevant projects with the support of the EIAH; considers that the EIB should ensure a proper feedback loop of information with the Commission regarding eventual regulatory barriers, which may be preventing good projects from taking place at the different levels; calls on the Commission to work in closer cooperation with Member States in the European Semester process to help them begin implementing the recommendations as soon as possible, in particular by carrying out economic and social reforms, thus removing national barriers to investment and creating a business-friendly environment; recalls that only the ‘virtuous triangle’ of structural reforms identified in the country-specific recommendations, responsible fiscal policies and investment will lead to success; highlights the need for enhanced transparency of EFSI, which should be accountable to Parliament by ensuring the disclosure of exhaustive and sound budgetary information and access to financial data related to projects funded by the EIB;

26.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal in the second phase of EFSI to increase the transparency of how projects are selected by requiring the EFSI Investment Committee (IC) to explain its decisions and give reasons for granting support, as well as the proposal to have the Scoreboard for EFSI projects made public as soon as projects are signed, with the exclusion of commercially sensitive information; notes that indicators such as job creation and skills development are key;

27.  Welcomes that the Commission will, in close cooperation with the EIB, further strengthen communication on EFSI and the EIAH in order to raise awareness of the availability of funding and technical assistance across the Union; suggests that information on funding solutions, technical assistance and procedures, including examples of good practices and case studies, can stimulate new ideas and boost investment initiatives;

28.  Stresses the need to ensure that EFSI projects comply with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the right to fair and just working conditions; highlights, in particular, the need to ensure respect for information and consultation rights of workers.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

25.1.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

41

10

0

Members present for the final vote

Laura Agea, Brando Benifei, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Enrique Calvet Chambon, Ole Christensen, Martina Dlabajová, Lampros Fountoulis, Arne Gericke, Marian Harkin, Czesław Hoc, Agnes Jongerius, Rina Ronja Kari, Jan Keller, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Jean Lambert, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Patrick Le Hyaric, Jeroen Lenaers, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Javi López, Thomas Mann, Dominique Martin, Joëlle Mélin, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, João Pimenta Lopes, Georgi Pirinski, Terry Reintke, Sofia Ribeiro, Robert Rochefort, Claude Rolin, Anne Sander, Sven Schulze, Siôn Simon, Jutta Steinruck, Romana Tomc, Yana Toom, Ulrike Trebesius, Marita Ulvskog, Renate Weber, Jana Žitňanská

Substitutes present for the final vote

Georges Bach, Heinz K. Becker, Lynn Boylan, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Paloma López Bermejo, Edouard Martin, Evelyn Regner, Csaba Sógor, Helga Stevens, Flavio Zanonato

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Marco Valli

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

41

+

ALDE

ECR

PPE

S&D

VERTS/ALE

Enrique Calvet Chambon, Martina Dlabajová, Marian Harkin, Robert Rochefort, Yana Toom, Renate Weber

Arne Gericke, Czesław Hoc, Helga Stevens, Ulrike Trebesius, Jana Žitňanská

Georges Bach, Heinz K. Becker, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Jeroen Lenaers, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Thomas Mann, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Sofia Ribeiro, Claude Rolin, Anne Sander, Sven Schulze, Csaba Sógor, Romana Tomc

Brando Benifei, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Ole Christensen, Agnes Jongerius, Jan Keller, Javi López, Edouard Martin, Georgi Pirinski, Evelyn Regner, Siôn Simon, Jutta Steinruck, Marita Ulvskog, Flavio Zanonato

Jean Lambert, Terry Reintke

 

10

-

EFDD

ENF

GUE/NGL

NI

Laura Agea, Marco Valli

Dominique Martin, Joëlle Mélin

Lynn Boylan, Rina Ronja Kari, Patrick Le Hyaric, Paloma López Bermejo, João Pimenta Lopes

Lampros Fountoulis

0

0

 

 

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention


OPINION of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (11.10.2016)

for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Rapporteur: Nicola Danti

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection calls on the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committees responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into their motion for a resolution:

1.  Notes that, having been fully operational for a short period of time, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) has kicked off successfully, delivering concrete results and boosting investment to overcome the lack of investment and competitiveness in Europe through coordinated action; stresses, however, that the pace needs to be accelerated significantly to deliver even more tangible results, particularly in the Member States in which the financing provided by EFSI was at a low level, in order for the instrument to fully achieve its objectives;

2.  Underlines that the guiding principle of EFSI is to mobilise private, market-based investments on a fully demand-driven basis and therefore urges the Commission to explore the opportunities to use the EFSI guarantees to encourage participation of wider investment sources such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and social investments as co-financiers on key projects;

3.  Stresses that EFSI should ensure greater additionality for its projects in relation to normal EIB activities as defined in Article 5 of Regulation (EU) 2015/1017; underlines that given the fact that EFSI funds have been redirected from EU programmes for research, innovation and infrastructure, it should support strategic investments related to projects that cannot obtain funding because of market failures, suboptimal investment situations or high levels of risk; urges the Commission, in this regard, to do a thorough assessment of the additionality of the projects already funded under EFSI and, based on the results, to set clear rules and criteria for defining the additionality; recalls, furthermore, that when determining the criteria for use of the EU guarantee, EFSI should consider not only the profitability factor, but also the positive long-term effects for the Single Market in terms of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, job creation and cohesion;

4.  Notes that despite the several successful infrastructure and innovation projects, the high ceiling for the minimum project amounts (EUR 50 million) limits the number of projects that may be implemented through EFSI, particularly in small Member States; calls, therefore, for lowering the minimal ceiling for project funding;

5.  Stresses that, while the EFSI SME window is a success and represents a good opportunity for start-ups, SMEs and mid-caps to obtain rapid access to finance, it still needs improvement and so does investment in the infrastructure and innovation window; welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s intention to expand and strengthen the SME support window; underlines the need to explore financial resources to support SMEs in implementing projects at international level and calls for the creation of further opportunities for SMEs to obtain financing for higher-risk projects, particularly in the digital sector; also points out that major investment projects should not be forgotten, in particular infrastructure and innovation projects; points to the need to make funds available for the digital transformation programme in order to support the SMEs affected by the digital transition, foster new and innovative technological development, with closer cooperation between established companies and start-ups;

6.  Notes that the strong interest and participation of intermediary banks in EFSI projects across the EU in providing finance to SMEs was extremely successful; encourages the Commission to work with the EFSI Steering Board to use all the existing possibilities under the EFSI Regulation to reinforce this access to finance for SMEs, in order to increase the overall volume of actions for these instruments and allow the EIF to finance a significant extra volume of operations;

7.  Calls for better coordination and synergy between EFSI and other EU funds, in particular the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), so as to promote more effective spending, stronger cohesion in Europe and ensure that EFSI has wide geographical coverage, particularly in those countries with a low level of EFSI financing, in order to ensure greater uniformity of investment and reduce regional disparities; calls, also, for closer cooperation with national promotional banks, local and regional authorities and relevant stakeholders, including further encouragement to establish investment platforms to aggregate sectoral and geographical investment opportunities;

8.  Underlines the need to increase the transparency of EFSI operations and to further disseminate information about projects and their results to citizens and potential beneficiaries; urges the Commission to devote more targeted communication and advisory efforts to increasing awareness of EFSI; suggests preparing information for SMEs to explain, in a simple and intelligible manner, by using specific examples, how they can obtain financing and the types of projects that are financed by EFSI;

9.  Believes that all contracts signed between the EIB and its clients, whether public or private, need to be disclosed on a systematic basis, in order to prove the additionality of EFSI projects and demonstrate to the public the high standards applicable for the EFSI funded projects; points to the need to enhance the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) and the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) in order to establish a link with the real economy, including enhanced cooperation with National Promotional Banks, give visibility to projects and provide high-quality technical assistance to potential promoters;

10.  Considers that EFSI is instrumental in completing and boosting the Single Market; underlines, in this light, the importance of strengthening the third pillar of the ‘Investment Plan for Europe’, also in the context of the European Semester process, in order to make the EU regulatory environment more certain, homogeneous and favourable to investments by focusing especially on strategic objectives such as the completion of a fully integrated, competitive and well-functioning Single Market and the development of an innovation-driven Digital Single Market, and on key actions that support these objectives; notes that the EFSI commitments in digital sector projects are highly insufficient;

11.  Calls for the Member States and stakeholders to further explore and promote investment opportunities in the area of digital content and services, widespread, affordable and secure high-speed broadband and telecommunications infrastructure, which is a prerequisite for genuine enforcement of consumers’ rights in terms of access to content, quality of service and low costs; stresses the importance of overcoming the different levels of infrastructure development among regions in Europe and between urban and rural areas; underlines the importance of financing the establishment of technology centres in less-industrialised regions in order to reduce regional disparities, revitalise local economies by providing high-quality jobs and skill development support;

12.  Welcomes the recent Commission proposal to extend EFSI beyond 2018 in order to overcome the current investment gap in Europe and continue to mobilise private sector capital.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

11.10.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

27

7

0

Members present for the final vote

Catherine Bearder, Dita Charanzová, Carlos Coelho, Lara Comi, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Daniel Dalton, Nicola Danti, Dennis de Jong, Pascal Durand, Vicky Ford, Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz, Evelyne Gebhardt, Maria Grapini, Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto, Robert Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Marlene Mizzi, Eva Paunova, Jiří Pospíšil, Virginie Rozière, Christel Schaldemose, Andreas Schwab, Olga Sehnalová, Igor Šoltes, Ivan Štefanec, Catherine Stihler, Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, Mylène Troszczynski, Mihai Ţurcanu, Anneleen Van Bossuyt, Marco Zullo

Substitutes present for the final vote

Pascal Arimont, Birgit Collin-Langen, Morten Løkkegaard, Julia Reda, Marc Tarabella, Sabine Verheyen


OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development (13.10.2016)

for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Rapporteur: Mercedes Bresso

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Regional Development calls on the Committee on Budgets and on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs as the committees responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into the motion for a resolution:

1.  Recalls that Cohesion Policy is the main investment policy of the Union, aimed at reducing regional disparities and contributing to the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; notes the initial results of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), in mobilising private investments, particularly for SMEs; recalls that the EFSI must also contribute to economic, social and territorial cohesion and that efforts are needed to enhance synergies and complementarity between the EFSI and European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) and other EU programmes; underlines the importance of ensuring additionality of the EFSI with respect to other EIB initiatives and EU-funded programmes, as this aspect has been frequently overlooked in the implementation process to date, by addressing market failures or suboptimal investment situations;

2.  Welcomes the investment projects approved by the EIB Board of Directors revealing a pool of higher risk operations that would not have been financed by financial institutions or Cohesion Policy operations; notes, however, that many of the operations cover ESIF intervention and eligibility criteria, especially with regard to the ERDF; calls for a higher risk profile of approved investment projects to bring more value to the economy and to cover market niches which will otherwise remain major investment gaps;

3.  Urges the Commission and the EIB to step up efforts and put in place mechanisms, including a set of criteria that ensure that additionality is verified;

4.  Calls on the Commission in collaboration with the EIB – with a view to assessing the usefulness of EFSI support, the prospects for EFSI support in future and a possible extension of EFSI – to submit a comprehensive analysis of the projects supported so far, including the SME pillar, and to provide full-scale data and information on the progress of the SMEs window;

5.  Acknowledges the publication of the Commission’s new guidelines of 22 February 2016 on combining ESIFs and the EFSI and the publication of the Commission and the EIB of 18 of March on EFSI rules related to investment platforms; notes, however, that the number of existing synergies between EFSI and ESI Funds is still extremely low and calls on the Commission, the EIB, the national and regional promotional banks and institutions (NPBI) and the managing authorities to accelerate the design and implementation of further synergies in order to ensure a wider geographical coverage of the EFSI;

6.  Is concerned about the Commission proposal requiring the highest risk-taking tranche of the investment to be covered by ESI Funds instead of EFSI when the instruments are combined; believes that this leads to legal uncertainty in the use of ESI Funds, and runs counter to the initial EFSI rationale of providing for new risk-bearing capacity for EU investment;

7.  Expresses concern at the limited role of Parliament in EFSI implementation and the lack of transparency regarding specific project selection criteria, as well as the amounts allocated in each case, many of which are ‘not disclosed’;

8.  Observes that Commission guidelines and action on achieving synergies do not go into sufficient detail; notes that so far existing ESI Funds-EFSI combinations are bottom-up demand‑driven by local authorities and actors;

9.  Considers that the Commission, the EIB, the Committee of the Regions, the Member States and the managing authorities, including those at regional level, should cooperate better in order to ensure that more integrated and complementary ESIF-EFSI projects with European added value are put forward to boost territorial development and cohesion policy; notes that projects in the circular economy could provide an example of integrated ESIF-EFSI projects since they promote the role of local and regional authorities in enabling a transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient, competitive economy, while fitting into the investment profile of EFSI-fundable projects;

10.  Considers it essential to take into account the different economic and infrastructural development needs of the regions and the territorial diversity of the Member States, while ensuring that the eligibility of projects is protected from any interference which could lead to appropriations being spread too thinly; highlights the importance of also developing thematic or cross-border projects that could deliver cohesion and higher European added value and points out that unified guidelines on cross-border projects should therefore be elaborated; encourages all the Member States to identify and facilitate the involvement process of the National and Regional Promotional Banks, which are essential for the establishment of investment platforms of either thematic or regional concentration;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in order to accelerate the implementation of the EFSI projects and their synergies with ESI Funds, to facilitate the use of alternative financing models such as Public Private Partnerships, as well as to simplify the legislative framework of the state aid rules; calls on the Member States to prepare pipelines of mature investment projects with the help of the Advisory Hub, structuring them in an optimal way to ensure greater use of financial instruments and complementarities between ESIF and ESI Funds;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB to invest efforts in enabling non-participating regions by means of investment in on-the-ground technical assistance in order to bring about regionally balanced project operations; believes that the creation of local investment platforms – a meeting point for public funds and private financing – should be accelerated;

13.  Refers to experience gained from cohesion policy operations which shows that technical assistance to private and public beneficiaries is most needed at regional and local level; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the EIB to involve financial intermediaries and umbrella organisations in a flexible and open way; believes that a rigorous communication campaign on EFSI investment projects should be undertaken in the under-performing EU regions;

14.  Considers that EFSI projects must respect the requirements for thematic concentration when complementing ESI funding; notes that there is a need to accelerate the implementation of EFSI projects and to take into consideration the Member States’ priorities under ESIF and EFSI;

15.  Believes that the selection of EFSI financing operations and the managing of projects should be more transparent, accountable and based on defined criteria, and should involve local and regional stakeholders at an early stage where necessary; notes the need to involve local and regional authorities more closely in the selection of projects of local and regional interest; stresses that the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) and the EFSI investment committee should use the expertise of regional and local authorities in order to promote integrated and complementary ESIF-EFSI projects; with a view to this, the EIAH should play an active role in enabling even more local and regional authorities to make the most of the EFSI; encourages the Member States, as well as local and regional authorities, to present projects that could be complementarily funded by EFSI and ESIF within the European Investment Project Portal in order to attract investment to their territory;

16.  Emphasises the need to strengthen the national and regional platform in order to support the coordination and synergies between EU funds and other programmes; calls, at the same time, for administrative instruments to be brought in at Member State level so that projects submitted for funding can be directed to the appropriate instruments, depending on the nature of the project;

17.  Asks the Commission to avoid double targeting, whereby EFSI funding is targeted at projects which could equally well be financed by ESI funds; calls, in light of the importance of additionality and complementarity, for better visibility of, and communication on, the ESI Funds instead of the current somewhat one-sided highlighting of the EFSI by the Commission;

18.  Recalls that the Parliament must play a fundamental role in monitoring the impact of these strategies and projects with the aim of boosting employment and sustainable and economic growth; stresses that the EP must also has a significant role in monitoring the impact of the synergies and complementarities of EFSI with ESI Funds and the other EU programmes.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

11.10.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

28

3

1

Members present for the final vote

Pascal Arimont, Franc Bogovič, Mercedes Bresso, Rosa D’Amato, Krzysztof Hetman, Ivan Jakovčić, Constanze Krehl, Louis-Joseph Manscour, Iskra Mihaylova, Jens Nilsson, Andrey Novakov, Konstantinos Papadakis, Mirosław Piotrowski, Stanislav Polčák, Julia Reid, Terry Reintke, Liliana Rodrigues, Fernando Ruas, Monika Smolková, Maria Spyraki, Ruža Tomašić, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, Matthijs van Miltenburg, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Derek Vaughan, Joachim Zeller

Substitutes present for the final vote

Viorica Dăncilă, Josu Juaristi Abaunz, Bronis Ropė, Peter Simon, Branislav Škripek, Damiano Zoffoli


OPINION of the Committee on Culture and Education (23.3.2017)

for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments

(2016/2064(INI))

Rapporteur: Jill Evans

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Culture and Education calls on the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committees responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Notes with disappointment that only 4 % of EFSI funding – both under the Infrastructure and Innovation and SME Windows – has been allocated to the thematic objective set out in Article 9(2)(g) of the EFSI Regulation and that only a fraction of that 4 % has reached the culture and education sectors;

2.  Takes further note of the need for a more balanced geographical distribution of EFSI funding; recalls that most EFSI projects are being approved in the economically healthier regions of Western Europe; calls, therefore, for more efforts to be made to further investigate and review the specific needs and gaps in countries that make less use of EFSI support and for more technical assistance and local and sector support to be provided, so as to ensure that EFSI reaches all Member States;

3.  Highlights the interest among cultural and creative sector (CCS) stakeholders in EFSI funding as well as the potential of the SME Window for the sector; regrets, however, the lack of awareness of EFSI and its funding options and tools; insists that the Commission adopt new, and scale up existing, communication initiatives that need to be tailored to the needs of the CCS and rolled out locally in Member States, including through the Creative Europe Desks;

4.  Notes that the cultural and creative sector mainly consists of SMEs with a higher degree of risk; notes, in this respect, that investment platforms may facilitate the outreach of EFSI funding, as they can pool smaller projects together and group contracts; urges the EFSI governing bodies to pay greater attention to investment platforms with a view to maximising the benefits that the latter can bring in overcoming investment barriers; invites the EIB to provide stakeholders with more information on the platforms; recalls that European associations active in culture and education have existing networks of member associations with sectoral and geographical knowledge that could help to better channel awareness-raising measures; points to the significant role the European Investment and Advisory Hub could play in helping to create investment platforms, which in turn could help to secure a better geographical and sectoral balance;

5.  Believes that the CCS also requires targeted advice to understand the financing options and procedures under EFSI, and that financial intermediaries need support to better understand the CCS and its needs; welcomes, in this regard, the EFSI 2.0 proposal to boost the role of the European Investment and Advisory Hub and enhance its national, regional and local presence; insists that the Hub be adequately resourced so as to provide tailored support to the education and cultural sectors throughout the process;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB Group to build up and integrate expertise, focussing specifically on cultural investment in the Hub; asks that the Hub work as closely as possible with National Promotional Banks and participants from the cultural and creative sector to deliver optimal support;

7.  Notes that, since schools and universities in most Member States are legally prohibited from borrowing money, EFSI is largely unsuitable for the sector; regrets that, despite funding being diverted from Horizon2020, EFSI support for research and innovation has not adequately benefited public universities; insists, therefore, that funding be restored to Horizon2020;

8.  Notes that people from rural areas face a distinct disadvantage when trying to access education and calls, therefore, for better connectivity , infrastructure and accessibility to be implemented;

9.  Calls for greater synergies between EFSI and other EU funds, notably the ESI Funds, Horizon2020 and the Creative Europe Guarantee Facility; urges the Commission to frontload the Creative Europe Guarantee Facility through EFSI for the benefit of SMEs; underscores that the Hub can play a role in providing information on combining EU funds and that advice and training should be provided accordingly; urges the Commission to provide a one-stop-shop online portal to allow potential beneficiaries in the culture and education sector to assess all funding options and how they might be effectively combined; is pleased to note, in this regard, the recently published Commission guidelines on combining EFSI with ESI Funds.

ANNEX: List of entities or persons

from whom the rapporteur for the OPINION has received input

The following list is drawn up on a purely voluntary basis under the exclusive responsibility of the rapporteur for the opinion. The rapporteur has received input from the following entities in the preparation of the draft opinion:

Entity

European Investment Bank

European Investment Fund

International Union of Cinemas

Performing Arts Employers’ Associations League Europe (Pearle)

Culture Action Europe

European Universities Association

European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE)

Lifelong Learning Platform

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

22.3.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

1

1

Members present for the final vote

Isabella Adinolfi, Dominique Bilde, Andrea Bocskor, Nikolaos Chountis, Jill Evans, Giorgos Grammatikakis, Petra Kammerevert, Andrew Lewer, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Michaela Šojdrová, Helga Trüpel, Sabine Verheyen, Julie Ward, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Theodoros Zagorakis, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Milan Zver, Krystyna Łybacka

Substitutes present for the final vote

Therese Comodini Cachia, Dietmar Köster, Emma McClarkin, Martina Michels

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

22

+

ECR

Andrew Lewer, Emma McClarkin

GUE/NGL

Nikolaos Chountis, Martina Michels

PPE

Andrea Bocskor, Therese Comodini Cachia, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Michaela Šojdrová, Sabine Verheyen, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Theodoros Zagorakis, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Milan Zver

S&D

Giorgos Grammatikakis, Petra Kammerevert, Dietmar Köster, Krystyna Łybacka, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Julie Ward

Verts/ALE

Jill Evans, Helga Trüpel

1

-

EFDD

Isabella Adinolfi

1

0

ENF

Dominique Bilde

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

15.5.2017

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

63

10

2

Members present for the final vote

Nedzhmi Ali, Gerolf Annemans, Jonathan Arnott, Jean Arthuis, Hugues Bayet, Pervenche Berès, Reimer Böge, Udo Bullmann, Lefteris Christoforou, Gérard Deprez, Manuel dos Santos, José Manuel Fernandes, Jonás Fernández, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Esteban González Pons, Ingeborg Gräßle, Roberto Gualtieri, Brian Hayes, Gunnar Hökmark, Danuta Maria Hübner, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Petr Ježek, Barbara Kappel, Othmar Karas, Bernd Kölmel, Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, Georgios Kyrtsos, Alain Lamassoure, Olle Ludvigsson, Marisa Matias, Gabriel Mato, Costas Mavrides, Clare Moody, Luigi Morgano, Siegfried Mureşan, Victor Negrescu, Luděk Niedermayer, Jan Olbrycht, Stanisław Ożóg, Urmas Paet, Pina Picierno, Paul Rübig, Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner, Pedro Silva Pereira, Peter Simon, Jordi Solé, Theodor Dumitru Stolojan, Patricija Šulin, Eleftherios Synadinos, Paul Tang, Michael Theurer, Isabelle Thomas, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Marco Valli, Tom Vandenkendelaere, Miguel Viegas, Daniele Viotti, Marco Zanni, Stanisław Żółtek

Substitutes present for the final vote

Xabier Benito Ziluaga, Richard Corbett, Andrea Cozzolino, Bas Eickhout, Heidi Hautala, Ramón Jáuregui Atondo, Eva Kaili, Krišjānis Kariņš, Jeppe Kofod, Eva Maydell, Nils Torvalds, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Julia Reda, Bart Staes, Jarosław Wałęsa, Lambert van Nistelrooij


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

63

+

ALDE

Nedzhmi Ali, Jean Arthuis, Gérard Deprez, Petr Ježek, Urmas Paet, Michael Theurer, Nils Torvalds, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells

ECR

Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, Stanisław Ożóg

PPE

Reimer Böge, Lefteris Christoforou, José Manuel Fernandes, Esteban González Pons, Ingeborg Gräßle, Brian Hayes, Gunnar Hökmark, Danuta Maria Hübner, Othmar Karas, Krišjānis Kariņš, Georgios Kyrtsos, Alain Lamassoure, Gabriel Mato, Eva Maydell, Siegfried Mureşan, Luděk Niedermayer, Jan Olbrycht, Paul Rübig, Theodor Dumitru Stolojan, Tom Vandenkendelaere, Jarosław Wałęsa, Tomáš Zdechovský, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Patricija Šulin

S&D

Hugues Bayet, Pervenche Berès, Udo Bullmann, Richard Corbett, Andrea Cozzolino, Jonás Fernández, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Roberto Gualtieri, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Ramón Jáuregui Atondo, Eva Kaili, Jeppe Kofod, Olle Ludvigsson, Costas Mavrides, Clare Moody, Luigi Morgano, Victor Negrescu, Pina Picierno, Pedro Silva Pereira, Peter Simon, Paul Tang, Isabelle Thomas, Daniele Viotti, Manuel dos Santos

VERTS/ALE

Bas Eickhout, Heidi Hautala, Julia Reda, Jordi Solé, Bart Staes

10

-

ECR

Bernd Kölmel

EFDD

Jonathan Arnott, Marco Valli

ENF

Gerolf Annemans, Marco Zanni, Stanisław Żółtek

GUE/NGL

Xabier Benito Ziluaga, Marisa Matias, Miguel Viegas

NI

Eleftherios Synadinos

2

0

ECR

Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner

ENF

Barbara Kappel

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

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