The European Investment Bank, in partnership with the General Representation of the Government of Flanders to the EU and the Liaison Agency Flanders-Europe (vleva), today organised an event in the Flemish Parliament to provide information about the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) .

The EFSI is an important element of the Juncker Commission’s investment plan. By setting up a guarantee fund, establishing a project pipeline and improving the investment climate in the EU, it seeks to bridge the investment gap that emerged in the European Union after the 2009 crisis.

Since the Investment Plan for Europe was presented in November last year, and Jean-Claude Juncker promised to mobilise funds of €315 billion through the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), there has been only one question on everyone’s lips, namely: What’s in it for me?

The EFSI is now ready to make a start. This is an ideal moment for all interested parties across Flanders – including public authorities, local and regional authorities, SMEs, mid cap companies, academic institutions, and of course private investors and banks – to learn about the opportunities offered by this new scheme. The key point is that it will act as a lever, allowing high-quality projects to serve as a catalyst for the Flemish and European economy.

Flemish Minister-President Geert Bourgeois and Pim van Ballekom, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), welcomed all interested parties to a seminar, at which Flemish organisations and businesses spoke about their experiences with the EIB. A team of 15 experts from the EIB explained the new features of the EFSI, together with numerous other conventional sources of financing.

Around 250 attendees took part in five workshops dealing with the existing financing opportunities offered by the EIB, the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) and the different forms of financing – such as public-private partnerships – which can play a role.

Closing speeches were given by the Minister of Finances, Budget and Energy Annemie Turtelboom and Speaker of the Flemish Parliament Jan Peumans. Please contact PMV if you would like more information about the opportunities offered by the EFSI.

EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom was happy with the way the event had gone: “Flanders is a major driver of the Belgian economy and a region where the bank has done business for many years. Now that the EIB is able to tackle higher-risk projects through the EFSI, this is an excellent opportunity for businesses to come to us with their plans. Not everyone knows about it as yet, so events such as this one are very important. Challenge us to do more in your region – there are plenty of opportunities in Flanders."

Flemish Minister-President Geert Bourgeois added: “I am sure that we – that is to say, the Flemish Government and above all the private sector – will give the EFSI every chance to succeed, remembering the motto "Good for the Union and good for Flanders.” The Flemish government has defined six priority sectors, and designated the independent investment company PMV as a “one-stop shop” supporting EFSI projects in Flanders. It is my firm belief that the recent EFSI decisions taken by the Flemish Government will pave the way for EFSI guarantees to be put in place for projects benefiting the Flemish economy.

Flemish Minister of Finances, Budget and Energy Annemie Turtelboom: “This Flemish government is an investing government. Investors require ready access to capital. Flanders has a strong need for investment in areas such as energy and transport infrastructure. The EFSI is able to bring real added value to the Flemish economy. After all, today’s investments mean tomorrow’s jobs.”

Speaker of the Flemish Parliament Jan Peumans: “During the debates and discussions in the Flemish Parliament I have noticed that everyone, across all the political parties, is aware of the importance of EFSI as an additional lever for entrepreneurship and economic growth in Flanders. This event can only help focus people’s ideas about Flanders and the EFSI.”