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JJJ - Innovations in the new cohesion policy programmes

3 new instruments to promote financial engineering for start-ups and micro-enterprises with technical assistance and grants.
Innovations in the new cohesion policy programmes

Over the past year, the Commission has been developing new instruments to assist Member States and the regions to improve the quality of projects while, at the same time, making Community financial resources work harder by increasing the leverage effect of cohesion policy. Accordingly, for the new programmes, specific initiatives have been developed to promote financial engineering for start-ups and micro-enterprises, combining technical assistance and grants, with non-grant instruments such as loans, equity, venture capital or guarantees.

These actions will be undertaken through enhanced cooperation, as agreed between the Commission and the European Investment Bank Group and other International Financial Institutions on financial engineering on the basis of the Memoranda of Understanding that were signed on 30 May 2006.

The added value of cooperation in this field includes providing additional loan resources for business formation and development in the regions of the EU; contributing financial and managerial expertise from specialist institutions such as the EIB Group and other International Financial Institutions, as well as from the financial sector in general; creating strong incentives for successful implementation by beneficiaries by combining grants with loans; and ensuring long-term sustainability through the revolving character of the grant contribution to financial engineering actions.

JASPERS, “Joint Assistance in Supporting Projects in European Regions”, is a new technical assistance partnership between the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It will be placed at the disposal of the Member States to assist with the preparation of large projects which will be supported by the Cohesion Fund and the ERDF.
This reflects the wide experience of the EIB and the EBRD in large project preparation, notably in the transport and environmental sectors. The combined efforts of the three institutions are intended to support the successful implementation of cohesion policy in the programming period 2007-2013 by greatly increasing the resources available for project preparation.

The main objective of JASPERS is to assist the Member States in the complex task of preparing quality projects so that they can be approved more quickly for EU support by the services of the Commission. This will include support for developing projects based on mature public-private partnership arrangements. JASPERS will provide comprehensive assistance for all stages of the project cycle from the initial identification of a project through to the Commission decision to grant assistance.

In order to improve access to finance for business development, a new initiative has been established in partnership with the European Investment Fund (EIF). The initiative, Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises (“JEREMIE”), began work in 2006 with an evaluation of the gaps in the provision of financial engineering products in Member States and regions (such as venture capital funds, loans and guarantees).

This will prepare the ground for a second phase in which the EIF or similar financial institution will support the authorities responsible for cohesion programmes to bridge the gaps identified. This support will take the form of expert management of resources set aside under the programme for developing access to finance, as well as the attraction and accreditation of financial intermediaries who would on-lend for business development. The successful implementation of the JEREMIE initiative will, however, require the full support and cooperation of the authorities in the Member States and regions.

Work has begun on JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) as a framework for enhanced cooperation between the Commission and the EIB, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs) on financial engineering for sustainable urban development. Its objective is to provide the authorities with a ready-made solution to the complex task of financing projects for urban renewal and development through the use of revolving funds. JESSICA is being put in place in a partnership between the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank.

2.6.4. Modernisation of public services The draft ESF Regulation for the new programming period includes a new specific priority under the Convergence objective aiming at strengthening institutional capacity and the efficiency of public administrations and public services at national, regional and local level. The emphasis on this priority is reflected in the Community Strategic Guidelines for Cohesion, 2007-2013 as a guideline for action.
The main objective of the priority is to support the reform of public administrations and public services in accordance with the objectives of the European Employment Strategy to improve quality and productivity at work, and in this context, improve efficiency and productivity in public administrations.

The support provided under the new priority should enable public administrations and public services to become strong drivers of competitiveness, development and growth of the Member States and regions. Implementation of the new priority should foster comprehensive reform or modernisation of the relevant public administrations and public services, by identifying those areas where interventions are the most needed and have the highest value-added.

Rural Development Strategic Guidelines and the European Fisheries Fund
The Council adopted the new regulation on rural development in September 20059. For 2007- 2013, EU rural development policy will have three main objectives: improving the competitiveness of European agriculture and forestry by supporting restructuring, development and innovation; improving the environment and the countryside by supporting land management; and improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activity. EU rural development policy will no longer be part of the Structural Funds but both policies will work together in supporting the economic diversification of rural areas. The new rural development policy will be financed by a single fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) which, in line with the Council agreement on the Financial Perspectives of December 2005, will have a total funding of € 69.75 billion10 for 2007-2013.

The Community Strategic Guidelines for Rural Development were adopted in February 2006 by Council Decision. The Guidelines identify the areas important for the realisation of EU priorities, in particular in relation to the Göteborg sustainability goals and to the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs. Cohesion policy already contributes to rural development through its activities in rural areas. During the 2000-2006 period, over €2 billion of ERDF resources have been allocated to measures which deal specifically with agriculture, forestry and promoting the adaptation and development of rural areas. This is in addition to the resources devoted to other aspects of the productive environment and investment in basic infrastructure in rural areas. For the 2007- 2013 period, cohesion policy will continue to support the diversification of rural economies through the ERDF.

An important issue in both the National Strategic Plans and the rural development programmes will be to ensure complementarity and synergy with the National Strategic Reference Frameworks (NSRFs) and Structural Funds programmes to be able to address the needs of rural areas in the EU through the creation of employment and the diversification of economic activities. The Commission encourages Member States to pay special attention to the role of rural areas in implementing the Lisbon objectives and to explore opportunities to exploit local potentialities.

The Commission adopted the draft regulation for the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) in July 2004. In line with the agreement on the Financial Perspectives of December 2005, the total budget of the EFF will be € 3,849 million for 2007-2013. The Community Strategic Guidelines for the EFF, which had been foreseen in the initial proposal, have been included in the EFF regulation as guiding principles. These guiding principles take into account EU priorities and in particular the Lisbon Growth and Jobs Strategy.



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