Urban dimension of financial instruments – meeting in Strasbourg on April 14th
Frank Lee, Head of Financial Instruments Advisory Division from the European Investment Bank, made the presentation “What next after JESSICA? The urban dimension of financial instruments in 2014-2020“. At the beginning of the meeting some reasons of using FI was underlined which are: a more efficient use of public sector resources, especially for revenue generation or cost saving projects; good leverage potential, also through recycling of funds; added financial discipline into the project; possibility of combining them with technical support and/or capital grants to overcome market barriers. In reference to the last point, it has been stressed that particularly in the urban environment there is a need to combine grants with FI and the balance between both is very important.
During the presentation JESSICA initiative was summed up as well as different urban models of using FI in the 2007-2013 financial perspective. Lithuanian case study was highlighted in which combination of loans and grants let renovate multi-apartment buildings. Moreover, Northwest England case study showed how 16 local authorities run Urban Development Fund which provides debt funding for urban regeneration projects. During the debate, MEPs agreed that the FI must be tailored into the local needs. In conclusion, Jan Olbrycht, President of the URBAN Intergroup, underlined that ex-ante conditionality is the way to choose best instrument for concrete challenge and that in general there is a growing debate about the financial instruments inside the cohesion policy.
Event on intergartion of refugees in European cities
The URBAN Intergroup jointly with the European Investment Bank (EIB) organised a conference “How Europe’s towns and cities can address current refugee crises?” The event took place on Wednesday April 6th in Brussels’ EIB Office.
In the welcoming speech, Mr Mikołaj Dowgielewicz, Permanent Representative of the EIB to the EU, stressed that the EIB’s aim is to trying to help Members States and cities to handle in the most appropriate way investments needed to respond the unprecedented refugee’s crisis. Jan Olbrycht, President of the URBAN Intergroup, explained that “we need to reflect about the current situation EU cities are facing, but also about the evolution of the whole migration process in the future. Moreover, we should think about the instruments to solve immediately the most urgent problems, and what should be changed in the functioning of the cities.”
The first session of the event focused on the integration of refugees from the EU institutions’ perspective. Representatives of the DG Migration and Home Affairs and of the DG Regional and Urban Policy from the European Commission presented the available instruments to tackle the crisis and possibilities to use them. It has been underlined that from the beginning of the refugee’s crisis, European cities showed great generosity to welcome migrants.
The aim of the second session was to present the issue of refugee’s integration from the European towns and cities perspective. Lambert van Nistelrooij, Vice-president of the URBAN Intergroup, who moderated this part of the seminar, stressed that mayor’s are at the political lead in hosting refugees. CEMR representative drew attention to the fact that the EU institutions and Members States need coordination to better distribute refugees in the whole territory, between big but also small and medium size European cities. EUROCITIES representative presented the main points of its recent report on refugees’ perception and their integration in cities, as well as EUROCITIES statement on asylum in cities. At the end of the meeting, the representative of the city of Amsterdam presented the (issue of the) inclusion of migrants and refugees in the EU Urban Agenda partnership.
In conclusion, Jan Olbrycht noticed that “we are now observing just the beginning of a long-term migration process in the European Union”. The European institutions must therefore start the rethinking of its statistics and reviewing its policies for the future.