The European Commission is organising in co-operation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group an event in Brussels on 29 and 30 November to further promote two initiatives designed to provide loans or guarantees instead of one-off grants under cohesion policy. The current economic situation in Europe reinforces the need to use tools like JEREMIE (access to finance for small businesses) and JESSICA (urban development) which can help regions and cities to meet their investment needs.

Speaking ahead of the event, Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy said: "JEREMIE and JESSICA are key tools to foster efficiency of cohesion policy and should play an important role in its future design after 2013. They represent a profound cultural shift from the traditional one-off grant schemes to more sustainable support through repayable assistance. In times of scarce public resources, they provide vital support to regions and multiply the impact of European investments on the ground.”

Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen, Vice-President of the EIB, added: “I am confident that JEREMIE and JESSICA will play a pivotal role in supporting and enhancing European projects. We are already now witnessing their strength and effectiveness. In the future they will constitute indispensable instruments promoting Europe’s regional development with a specific sustainable support to SMEs and urban areas.”

Chief Executive of the European Investment Fund Richard Pelly said: “2010 was an important year for JEREMIE: JEREMIE activity is now spreading successfully across Europe. Thanks to a well structured process, EU funds have started to reach SMEs. JEREMIE helps to demonstrate that financial engineering is key to EU SME policy and will become even more important in the future.”

JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) is a joint initiative of the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank. It provides enhanced support to Member States and regions to invest in sustainable urban development and regeneration projects.

JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) is a joint initiative of the Commission and the European Investment Fund with the European Investment Bank. It aims to improve access to finance for medium, small and micro enterprises, in particular through the supply of venture capital, loans, guarantees, micro-credit and other forms of repayable assistance.

To date, nineteen JESSICA operations are being implemented in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom. This represents EUR 1.65 billion of structural funds committed to support urban development through revolving instruments. The scope of supported projects includes among others, brownfield regeneration, development of sustainable urban infrastructure (e.g. waste-to-energy projects) and energy efficiency interventions in the existing housing stock.

JEREMIE is in operation through 30 holding funds in 15 Member States on a national or regional basis (Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain and United Kingdom). In total, EUR 3.5 billion have been committed to support small and medium sized businesses through holding funds. As an example, in Andalusia (Spain), the regional development agency ("IDEA") manages a EUR 235 million regional holding fund, which is operational and focuses on competitiveness and globalization of enterprises. Member States report a further EUR 2.8 billion repayable forms of financial assistance being implemented through structural funds.

In addition, the scope of financial engineering instruments has recently been widened to support energy efficiency and renewable energy in buildings in all EU regions and the first operations are being set up.

These instruments will contribute to build up by the end of 2015 a lasting funding legacy of EU and national public money, to be recycled and reinvested in the long term to support a wider number of projects for the benefit of regions and European citizens.

Note for editors:

Building on the most recent implementation experience, today's conference will provide updated information about the progress of both initiatives, including case studies presented by national and regional authorities, and financial institutions.

In addition to Commissioner Hahn and EIB-Vice President Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen, Danuta Hübner MEP Chairwoman of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development and Rudy Demotte, Minister-President of Wallonia will be among the keynote speakers.

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