Inside EFSI: The Investment Committee
When did the idea develop that there would be an Investment Committee and that it would play this part?
It was a journey. There were two questions that were finally also discussed with the Parliament. The first was whether we would call it the European Fund for Strategic Investments—this was because legally it’s not a fund, it’s a guarantee facility. At the beginning this created some confusion in the market because people were approaching the EIB and saying, “Okay, I want to invest in this fund. Where is this fund? What’s the legal entity?” The other question was why the Investment Committee was called that. Because this committee doesn’t decide on investments. It decides on the use of the public guarantee. One option was to call it the guarantee committee. Finally, things took on their own momentum. But this was more about labelling. The fundamental principles were agreed from the very beginning.
In the legislative process was there a moment when you thought it might not happen or that it might take on a completely different form?
There was one point. That was interesting. It was at the beginning of the discussion in Parliament. There was a legal proposal sent to the Parliament and it was more or less the same as the one that was finally adopted. One parliamentarian said, “We are happy, we want to do this, but we want to have political control.” We, the EIB and the Commission, said to them, “If you want to kill this instrument, make it political. If you want to have it succeed, then keep this market approach in place.” This was a very fundamental decision. Finally, the European Parliament accepted that it’s market-driven, not policy-driven. But we agreed that we would have a scoreboard in place to give us a clear indication about additionality. Second, we agreed to keep the Investment Committee truly independent. Third, Parliament had the final say in selecting the Managing Director and the Deputy Managing Director.
The two posts were published and between 40 and 60 persons applied for Managing Director and the same number or even a little more for Deputy Managing Director. Finally, the Commission and the EIB made a shortlist and when there was one candidate for each position, Iliyana and I were voted in by the European Parliament, confirmed by a large majority.
Fourth, we agreed with the Parliament to make it a transparent process by publishing the project scoreboards and, since 2018, the Investment Committee’s rationale documents also. Since 2018, the Parliament has also had an observer on the Steering Board, former EU Commissioner László Andor.
How were the members of the Investment Committee selected and who are they?
First of all, the regulation said it must be 50-50 concerning gender. It was one of the first pieces of legislation at EU level to include this principle. The advertisement said that candidates must have market backgrounds. They should have also a broad overview of the European economy from the perspective of various sectors. There also had to be regional, and not just gender, diversity. Finally these colleagues were selected by the Steering Board, which was already in place at that time. This was more or less the guiding, governing body of the whole process, with three members from the European Commission and one EIB member, Vice President Ambroise Fayolle. They had the job of selecting the eight members of the Investment Committee. These were people from different regions with different market backgrounds and were absolutely independent. This was one of the fundamental principles of the Steering Board’s selection process.