Financial Engineering

JESSICA: Sustainable development for urban areas


JESSICA Networking Platform Fifth Meeting on 31 March 2011 new
Conference on JEREMIE & JESSICA: Towards successful implementation 29-30 October 2010
Conference on JEREMIE & JESSICA: Innovative financial instruments in EU Cohesion Policy (22-23 October 2009)
JESSICA Evaluation Studies
Horizontal Studies
Legislative Provisions and Guidance Notes

JESSICA, Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas, is an initiative of the Commission in cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), in order to promote sustainable investment, and growth and jobs, in Europe’s urban areas.

The need to do more in this field has been requested in the context of the consultation on the draft Community Strategic Guidelines adopted by the Commission in July 2005. In addition, the report by European Parliament (Jean Marie Beaupuy) of September 2005, “The urban dimension in the context of enlargement” called on ‘the Commission to reinforce actions for urban agglomerations and areas’. At the high-level conference involving the Presidency, the regions and financial institutions in Brussels on 24 November 2005 on the theme of Financing growth and cohesion in the enlarged EU the outline of a JESSICA-type cooperation agreement between the Commission and the international financial institutions was presented and received widespread support. The Informal Meeting of Ministers in Bristol on 6-7 December 2005 on sustainable communities called for a reflection on ‘how to enhance the impact of EIB loans’.

The Communication of the European Commission on "Cohesion policy and cities: The urban contribution to growth and jobs in the regions" COM (2006)385 final, has insisted in the need of an increase of the leverage of public resources through the involvement of the private sector, which can bring "not just money but complementary skills and resources". This approach requires a new mindset for local authorities when dealing with JESSICA, as "An effective public-private partnership requires both a strategic and long term vision and technical and management competences on the part of local authorities".

Memorandum of Understanding Information note

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How JESSICA works

JESSICA will offer the managing authorities of Structural Funds programmes the possibility to take advantage of outside expertise and to have greater access to loan capital for the purpose of promoting urban development, including loans for social housing where appropriate. Where a managing authority wishes to participate under the JESSICA framework, it would contribute resources from the programme, while the EIB, other international financial institutions, private banks and investors would contribute additional loan or equity capital as appropriate. Since projects will not be supported through grants, programme contributions to urban development funds will be revolving and help to enhance the sustainability of the investment effort. The programme contributions will be used to finance loans provided by the urban development funds to the final beneficiaries, backed by guarantee schemes established by the funds and the participating banks themselves. No State guarantee for these loans is involved, hence they would not aggravate public finance and debt.

For two possible approaches, the basic steps leading from the contribution from the programme to support for a project on the ground are as follows:
(1) Direct relationship with Urban Development Funds
Managing authorities deciding to use the JESSICA framework will launch one or more calls for expression of interest, addressed to urban development funds and the resulting submissions would then be appraised in the usual way. Relevant criteria in this context would include the investments and projects to be targeted, the terms and conditions under which they would be financed, ownership and contributions of co-financing partners of the fund, the justification and intended utilization of the ERDF contribution, the winding up provisions of the fund, etc.

As a result of the appraisal, a funding agreement would be signed between the managing or other authority and the selected urban development fund(s), specifying the terms and conditions, as well as the targeted investments for allocating resources from operational programmes to them.
Urban development funds will select and support PPPs and other urban projects, providing them loans, equity or guarantees, but not grants. It would be possible for a given project to be supported partly by the non-grant urban development funds, and partly by public grants (including from operational programmes). Other private banks or investors may also participate. Project promoters could be public, municipal or private sector enterprises, or joint enterprises involving these actors in any possible combination between them. The funds will monitor implementation of projects by final beneficiaries. They will report to the managing authorities on their activities (selection of projects, implementation by final beneficiaries).

(2) Organising JESSICA through Holding Funds
Managing authorities have the possibility to organise financial engineering for sustainable urban development through the intermediary of holding funds. Holding funds are those investing in more than one urban development fund, providing them with equity, loans or guarantees. In such cases, the authorities will have the option of awarding a grant to the EIB entrusting it with the holding fund tasks.

A funding agreement would be signed between the Member States or managing authorities and the holding fund, specifying the terms, conditions, targeted investments, etc. Holding funds invest in more than one urban development fund, providing them with equity, loans or guarantees. Urban development funds are funds investing directly in public-private partnerships (PPPs) and other projects in the urban context. Projects approved by the funds for support will be financed only through equity or loans, and not through grants. It is envisaged that a pre-condition would be that projects would be supported only in the context of an integrated plan for sustainable urban development.

Urban development funds will be co-managed by professionals of the banking and private sector, who should contribute financial, technical and managerial expertise and flexibility to the management of projects co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

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