The potential for Financial Instruments to provide a major boost to future investment in the EU agricultural sector was highlighted by a range of speakers at a macro-regional conference in Madrid today. Around 100 participants from more than 10 EU Member States took part in lively exchanges on the use of financial instruments (loans and guarantees) for agriculture and rural businesses, co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
Opening the event, the European Commission's Mihail Dumitru (DG AGRI Deputy Director-General) told the conference: "W e need to offer all our stakeholders a full range of support under the Rural Development Programmes, including improved access to funding. I believe that an intelligent and strategic mix of Financial Instruments can not only deliver funding where it is needed, notably by attracting additional private capital, but also help to reduce budget pressures. Financial Instruments can be tailored to farmers' needs and I think that existing models and EU Rural Development funding rules provide sufficient flexibility to adapt projects to specific needs."
His statements were echoed by senior officials from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, outlining the Spanish approach towards Financial Instruments, and farmers views were expressed by representatives from COPA-COGECA and Spanish farm unions. The meeting also heard about examples from Estonia, Hungary, Romania, and Spain, and experts from the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund and the European Commission also contributed to the discussions.
Today's event in Madrid follows similar events in Dublin, Vienna and Riga of last year where more than 450 participants gathered and shared their experience and knowledge. This event will be followed by a macro-regional seminar in Rome on 13 June 2016, and the 2nd European conference on Financial Instruments under the EAFRD will take place in Brussels on 25 November 2016.