The extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investments was proposed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the European Union 2016 address. Local and regional authorities have a key role to play in identifying, planning and supporting investment in their regions and as such their close involvement is crucial for the success of the investment plan, especially regarding the smaller local projects.
The opinion welcomes the proposed extension both in terms of duration and financial capacity in order to stimulate employment, growth and competitiveness, and particularly welcomes the focus on SMEs and clarity around projects related to climate action, agriculture and fisheries.
The aim of the investment plan should be to support investments that could not have been carried out by the EIB without EFSI support and the opinion also wishes priority to be given to cross-border projects. The importance of combining EFSI with other EU funds such as ESIF, Horizon 2020 and CEF is highlighted and strategic coordination is essential for tangible results.
In just over a year EFSI has mobilized over € 138 billion in 27 Member States, and supported more than 200,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. EFSI is running above initial expectations. This justifies its extension to 2020, and I intend to mobilize 500 billion euros against the initial 315 billion until 2018. It is essential that beneficiaries are informed of this opportunity and that they have support in the preparation of applications which will contribute to the geographic and thematic diversification of the fund.