Targeted coaching for the relevant Member State Managing Authorities on how best to use Financial Instrument possibilities available under EU Rural Development funding (EAFRD) has now been launched.
As announced by EU Commissioner Phil Hogan at a FI-Compass seminar on Financial Instruments in October in Riga, this pilot phase foresees targeted coaching for EAFRD Managing Authorities (MAs) so that they can better understand and implement the available options, for example by speeding up programming and implementation and removing bottlenecks in the process.
The service will be provided by a team from the European Investment Bank (fi-compass) supported by the Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI). The first Managing Authority to receive this support is Bulgaria.
Commissioner Hogan has warmly welcomed the start of the pilot phase, stating: "I am a keen supporter of Financial Instruments because I see them as a useful tool for leveraging private funds. It is therefore important that we help Member State Managing Authorities make the best out of the available opportunities so that we can facilitate and maximise this investment, and thereby create EU growth and jobs."
European Investment Bank Vice-President Pim Van Ballekom added: "Given this challenging time for the European agricultural sector, where we all must strive for more efficient use of scarce public resources, we firmly believe in the idea of using financial instruments to help leverage private sector resources and revolve the public funds for investment in productive and sustainable agricultural activities. This 'targeting coaching' pilot is a natural extension of the existing fi-compass platform of knowledge and awareness raising on financial instruments and we are particularly excited about the opportunity to extend EIB Group’s skills and experience in this regard to EAFRD Managing Authorities, to support their efforts to establish financial instruments under their Rural Development Programmes."
During the pilot phase, which lasts until the end of April, a total of three EAFRD Managing Authorities are to be assisted. Subject to approval of the new fi-compass work programme 2016-2018, the service will be mainstreamed and open to all EAFRD Managing Authorities. Thereafter, EAFRD Managing Authorities interested in being assisted will have the opportunity to submit requests and benefit from the coaching.
The targeted coaching will offer two general formats, a "First coaching module" for EAFRD MAs who are interested in, or taking early steps towards, FI implementation and an “Advanced coaching module” for EAFRD MAs whose FI is in the detailed planning or implementation stage.
As a general principle, the targeted coaching will be offered to those MAs who have already shown an effort and/or a commitment to consider using or advancing with FIs supported by the EAFRD. Experience from the past programming period have shown that supporting such front-runners and promoting their efforts/results could have a strong signalling effect on the value-added and advantages associated with FIs, respectively on their use for agriculture, forestry and the rural economy (businesses and infrastructure), and thereby encourage others to follow.
fi-compass is a unique platform for advisory services on financial instruments under the European Structural and Investment funds (ESIF) and microfinance under the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). fi-compass is provided by the European Commission in partnership with the European Investment Bank, and it is designed to support ESIF managing authorities, EaSI microfinance providers and other interested parties, by providing practical know-how and learning tools on financial instruments. These include also, inter alia, EAFRD-specific "how-to" manuals, factsheets for quick reference, e-learning modules, face-to-face training seminars and networking events.