The financial arm of the Investment Plan for Europe, the European Fund for Strategic Investments, tackles three pressing issues—economic, environmental and non-financial barriers to investment, capacity constraints and subdued investment activity. The plan was designed by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank in 2014 and launched for a five-year period in the summer of 2015.
It was born from the diagnosis that following the 2008 financial and economic crisis, investment activity in Europe was far too low and that the competitiveness gap between Europe and other parts of the world was growing rapidly. These problems were driven by a credit crunch for private sector financing (despite ample liquidity), a fragmented banking system, underdeveloped capital markets and severely limited public resources, as well as other non-financial investment barriers.
As the financing arm of the Investment Plan for Europe, EFSI enables and challenges the European Investment Bank Group to increase support for viable projects with risk profiles that go beyond the EIB’s own risk-bearing capacity. As a public policy instrument, it also has to address market failures and suboptimal investment situations.
From the beginning, EFSI had three clear objectives: additionality, mobilised capital and impact. The eligibility of each project for the EFSI guarantee is assessed based on these three criteria. The EIB Group remains the lender or financier, with all related activities performed by the EIB (such as due diligence, funding, risk management, legal and contractual requirements towards the client, monitoring, governance, etc.). That allows EFSI governance (as the guarantor) to focus solely on the crucial decision as to whether the EU guarantee should be made available, based on the assessment of the EFSI eligibility criteria. This keeps the process lean and efficient.
The EIB Group has a detailed reporting obligation towards the European Commission (which provides the guarantee) and the European Parliament (which legislates the EFSI regulation).