The European Commission has praised the achievements of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) in the past year. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker, said that “the investment plan works and defies the pessimists”.
Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness started Wednesday’s press briefing at the Berlaymont building with a joke that he has bad news for journalists: EFSI, as it is known, did not fail, he said.
“We have a EUR 21 billion capital base at our disposal. This will allow [the] European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance higher risk projects in worth more than EUR 60 billion … [which] could crowd in around EUR 250 billion from [the] private sector.”
Katainen told the press that the Commission anticipated a multiplier of 15 but has seen a more positive reality, with a multiplier of 23. Katainen did however warn that he is unsure whether the multiplier would stay that high.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which represent 99% of all businesses in the EU, are the focus of attention of the EFSI as SMEs proved to be “a successful story”, according to the Commissioner. Overall, the EFSI has concluded 185 agreements with banks to support 240,000 SMEs in the EU.
“We have supported innovative energy projects, healthcare centres, urban development and high-speed broadband. Close to 150,000 SMEs have access to new financing,” stressed the Commissioner.
However, Katainen underlined that the financing of the SMEs hold higher risks for financial institutions and banks reluctantly enter such deals, and that EFSI can make a difference in this area. Another challenge is the lack of information about good projects on the EU market.
In order to resolve this problem, the Comission announced today the launch of the European Investment Project Portal, an online platform, which will allow bringing together European project promoters and investors.