City Talk: EUR 234 from Bulgarian Regions in Growth operational programme for projects by JESSICA

The role of the financial engineering will grow more and more in Bulgaria, and it will focus more funds during the next programming period. This will facilitate to attract more private investments. The combination of grants with financial engineering will be easier and the national co-financing will be cut down.

The new framework will make possible adaptation of projects to the needs in the different geographical areas. This was said by Eugenio Leanza, director for JESSICA at the European Investment Bank, at the third discussion forum City Talk held in Sofia on 21 Nov. The poor technical readiness and the difficulties with co-financing are among the main problems all over the European Union, explained  Leanza.
EUR 234m will be proposed for funding by the financial instrument JESSICA according to the draft of the new operational programme Regions in Growth that is an increase of 8-9 times compared to the resources in the now active programme Regional Development.

The funds earmarked for financial instruments by Regions in Growth 2014 – 2020:
* Priority axis 1 – Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development
- Energy efficiency in multi-family residential buildings – 55 MEUR
- Improvement of urban environment and zones of economic development potential – 36.2 MEUR
- Sports infrastructure – 41.3 MEUR
- Cultural infrastructure – 27.5 MEUR
- Integrated urban transport – 18.5 MEUR
* Priority axis 5 – Regional Tourism
- for development of cultural and natural heritage of national and world importance – 55 MEUR

The EU models

EUR 258m are the JESSICA funds in Greece managed by five urban development funds. Until now have been submitted 70 proposals worth EUR 600m. Approved and signed are contracts for funding of the first four projects on the island of Crete for EUR 12m of which EUR 7m come from the financial instrument, informed Apostolos Papadopoulos from Grant Thornton, member of one of the urban development funds. Among the issues were quoted the poor readiness of the projects, especially the ones submitted by public partners, and the insufficient resources for co-financing from the private partners.
Portugal is a model for JESSICA funds management having attracted five times more private funds compared to the public funding.
45 funds by JESSICA initiative currently operate in the EU countries.

Some proposals

The lack of enough mature urban projects with high public potential, not working act on public-private partnership, territorial limitations by the integrated plans for urban renewal and development, time limitations – 80% of the funds to be invested by 31 Dec. 2014, 100% – by 30 June 2015 – these are some of the problems quoted by the managers of the two urban development funds by JESSICA in Bulgaria Nadia Dankinova and Martin Zaimov. Among their proposals about how to streamline the work is the option for smaller projects, expansion of the scope of the financial instruments to all measures of the operational programmes, making the preliminary assessment more important in the process of development of the financial instruments for the new programming period.

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