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What is InvestEU?

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The InvestEU Programme will bring together under one roof the multitude of EU financial instruments currently available to support investment in the EU, making funding for investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible.

The InvestEU Programme consists of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal. It will further boost job creation and support investment and innovation in the EU.

InvestEU will run between 2021 and 2027 and it builds on the success of the Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) by providing an EU budget guarantee to support investment and access to finance in the EU. InvestEU aims to trigger at least €650 billion in additional investment.

The InvestEU Fund will support four policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium-sized businesses; and social investment and skills. InvestEU will also be flexible: it will have the ability to react to market changes and policy priorities that change over time.

The InvestEU Advisory Hub will provide technical support and assistance to help with the preparation, development, structuring and implementation of projects, including capacity building.

The InvestEU Portal will bring together investors and project promoters by providing an easily-accessible and user-friendly database.

Why do we need InvestEU?

The investment conditions in Europe have improved since the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan, was launched, thanks to structural reforms carried out by the Member States, a more a favourable economic situation and interventions such as EFSI. To help investment recover further, InvestEU will continue the work of the Juncker Plan to mobilise public and private resources in the EU. It will help to address market failures and investment gaps to foster jobs and growth and to reach EU policy goals such as sustainability, scientific excellence and social inclusion.

How will the InvestEU Fund work?

The InvestEU Fund will mobilise public and private investment through an EU budget guarantee of €38 billion that will back the investment projects of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group and other financial partners, and increase their risk-bearing capacity. The financial partners are expected to contribute at least €9.5 billion in risk-bearing capacity. The guarantee will be provisioned at 40%, meaning that €15.2 billion of the EU budget is set aside in case calls are made on the guarantee.

The InvestEU Fund will be implemented through financial partners who will invest in projects using the EU guarantee. The main partner will be the EIB Group, which has successfully implemented and managed EFSI since its launch in 2015. In addition to the EIB Group, International Financial Institutions active in Europe – such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Developments (EBRD), the World Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank – and National Promotional Banks will have direct access to the EU guarantee.

The InvestEU Fund will also feature a Member State compartment for each policy area, meaning that Member States may add to the EU guarantee’s provisioning by voluntarily channelling some of their Cohesion Policy funds to these compartments. Like this, Member States will benefit from the EU guarantee and its high credit rating, giving national and regional investments more firepower.

What’s the advantage compared to the status quo, especially for the final beneficiaries?

Creating one coherent programme benefits from economies of scale. It achieves greater risk diversification, has a more integrated governance structure, and mainstreams cross-sectorial policies, bringing a multitude of instruments under one single structure. Using a budget guarantee – and not only financial instruments or grants – can help increase the impact of public funds. In this way we can do more with less.

The new approach also helps to reduce uncertainty for final beneficiaries and financial intermediaries about which instrument is the best for them.

Under the InvestEU Fund, there will be a single programme with a strong identity and a single set of coherent requirements (for eligibility, monitoring and reporting), which will apply throughout the financing chain to the benefit of financial intermediaries and final beneficiaries. InvestEU will eliminate overlaps and ensure synergies both for financing and advisory services. The InvestEU Advisory Hub will integrate 13 different advisory services into a one-stop-shop.

Also, when blending grants from other programmes like Horizon Europe, the Single Market Programme or the Connecting Europe Facility with support from InvestEU, InvestEU rules will apply for the entire project. This is a major simplification compared to today.

What will InvestEU finance?

The InvestEU Fund will be market-based and demand-driven. By crowding-in private investors, it will help achieve the EU’s ambitious goals in sustainability, scientific excellence and social inclusion. Investments will come under four policy areas, which represent important policy priorities for the Union and bring high EU added value:

  • sustainable infrastructure;
  • research, innovation and digitisation;
  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps;
  • social investment and skills.

The budget guarantee is divided between the policy areas as follows:

Sustainable infrastructure:  €11.5 billion

Research, innovation and digitisation: €11.25 billion

SMEs:   €11.25 billion

Social investment and skills:  €4 billion

The Commission can adjust these amounts by up to 15% in each policy window to adapt to evolving policy priorities and market demand.

Who will manage InvestEU?

As in the case of EFSI, a Steering Board will give strategic direction on programme implementation. It will be composed of the Commission (four members), the EIB Group (three members) and other implementing partners (two members – International Financial Institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or National Promotional Banks), as well as a non-voting expert appointed by the European Parliament. The Steering Board will strive to take its decisions by consensus.

An Advisory Board will assist the Steering Board. It is composed of representatives of implementing partners (one member each) and Member States (one member each). The agreement between the European Parliament and the Council extends membership to the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee (one member each). The Commission will be able to consult this board when preparing and designing new financial products or to follow market developments and share information. This Advisory Board will be able to issue recommendations to the Steering Board on the implementation and functioning of the InvestEU programme.

An Investment Committee will approve the individual guarantee requests. This Committee is composed of external experts selected in an open process, and remunerated by the EU budget. The Investment Committee will be assisted by a secretariat, which will be staffed by and located in the Commission. The secretariat will provide administrative support for the organisation of meetings, agendas, minutes and interact with the implementing partners as appropriate to ensure the files transmitted to the Investment Committee are complete.

The EIB as the strategic partner may send its guarantee requests directly to the Investment Committee. This will be subject to notification to the secretariat, based in the Commission, which will assume all horizontal tasks and handle the guarantee requests of all other implementing partners.

Who will choose the InvestEU projects?

Just as is the case under EFSI, the Investment Committee will select projects based on compliance with the eligibility criteria set by the Regulation as well as the Investment Guidelines, with a specific focus on additionality.

Members of the Investment Committee will be external experts with expertise from the relevant sectors. The Committee will meet in four different configurations corresponding to the policy windows.

The Committee’s decisions will be made independently, with no political interference.

In practice, Commission services will first verify the consistency of the proposed operations with EU law and policies. Projects passing this initial check will be passed on to the Investment Committee.

The Investment Committee will approve the use of the EU guarantee for financing and investment operations, taking its decision after assessing the project scoreboard presented by the implementing partners. Just as under EFSI, all decisions approving the use of the EU guarantee will be publicly available.

What will be the InvestEU eligibility criteria?

InvestEU projects must:

  • address market failures or investment gaps and be economically-viable
  • need EU backing in order to get off the ground
  • achieve a multiplier effect and where possible crowd-in private investment
  • help meet EU policy objectives.

The eligibility criteria are defined in the Financial Regulation.

Why does EFSI cease to exist? Why not just create an EFSI 3.0?

EFSI was launched in July 2015 to boost investment and stimulate economic growth and employment in the EU, at a time when Europe was still recovering from the financial and economic crisis. It was originally foreseen to have a short investment period to maximise the impact, until July 2018. Due to its success, EFSI was expanded in size and extended in duration in December 2017. Its investment period now lasts until end-2020, the end of the current long-term budget, or Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). No new investments can be undertaken under EFSI after 2020 but – as with most EU financial instruments – the liabilities run for much longer.

The InvestEU Programme builds on the success of EFSI, and will continue to create and support jobs across the EU by following the same model based on an EU budget guarantee.

Is InvestEU taking budget from other financing programmes? What will happen to programmes like COSME and InnovFin?

The InvestEU Fund will bring under one roof the 14 EU financial instruments currently supporting investment in the EU, giving it a single, strong brand. The InvestEU Fund will capture the objectives of existing instruments such as COSME and InnovFin and be able to boost investments even further thanks to the larger scale and efficiencies of the single InvestEU Fund. The four InvestEU Fund policy areas place emphasis on areas of strategic importance for the EU, with €11.25 billion each of the guarantee earmarked for small businesses and a further €11.25 billion earmarked for research, innovation and digitisation.

Can InvestEU financing be blended with EU grants?

Yes. Blending can be necessary in some situations to underpin investments in order to address particular market failures or investment gaps. The InvestEU Fund can be combined with grants or financial instruments, or both, funded by the centrally managed Union budget or by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) Innovation Fund. Such combinations can create advantages for project promoters in sectors such as transport, research and digital. When a project uses EU grants and InvestEU, the InvestEU rules will apply for the entire project. This means a single rulebook and a major simplification compared to today.

What will be the risk profile of investments? What type of investments will the InvestEU Fund be targeting compared to today’s financial instruments?

The InvestEU Fund will target economically viable projects in areas where there are market failures or investment gaps. The InvestEU Fund instruments will seek to attract commercial financing to a wide range of operations and beneficiaries and will only support projects where financing could not be obtained at all or not at the required terms without InvestEU Fund support. It will also target higher risk projects in specific areas.

In addition, InvestEU places more emphasis on social investment and skills. The allocation for budgetary guarantees and financial instruments in the social sector under the current long-term EU budget amounts to €2.2 billion whereas InvestEU allocates €4 billion of the EU guarantee to this policy area, almost doubling what is currently available.

What is the expected multiplier effect for InvestEU? How do you expect to reach €650 billion?

Due to InvestEU targeting higher risk innovation projects and SMEs, as well as the greater focus on EU policy objectives, we expect a slightly more conservative multiplier effect than under EFSI: 13.7 rather than 15. That is to say that for every public euro that is mobilised through the Fund, €13.7 of total investment, that would not have happened otherwise, is generated.

The €15.2 billion budget earmarked for InvestEU allows the EU budget to provide a guarantee of €38 billion. In addition, each financial partner will be expected to contribute some resources to ensure alignment of interest, adding an estimated total of €9.5 billion, so the total guarantee will be around €47.5 billion. This in turn will be leveraged by each financial partner. This means they can lend more than the guarantee amount. Finally, each InvestEU-backed project will attract other private and public investors, as we have seen under the Juncker Plan, and we expect this will trigger at least €650 billion in total investment.

Why is the InvestEU Fund open to other financial partners? Why not work exclusively with the EIB Group, like with EFSI?

Given its role as the EU’s public bank, its capacity to operate in all Member States, and its experience in managing EFSI, the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group will remain the Commission’s main financial partner under InvestEU and implement 75% of the €38 billion guarantee. It will also play an important role in the programme governance and implementation. For the remaining 25%, International Financial Institutions and National Promotional Banks, which can offer specific expertise and experience, can become financial partners, subject to conditions.

Opening up the possibility to benefit from the EU guarantee to other institutions is driven by the fact that there are other experienced potential financial partners in the EU, which have specific financial or sectorial expertise, deep knowledge of their local market or greater capacity to share risk with the EU in some areas. This approach will enlarge and diversify the pipeline of projects and increase the potential pool of final beneficiaries.

The Commission wants to ensure that the beneficiaries of InvestEU can get the best possible support and with easiest access. The InvestEU Fund will therefore be open to other institutions, either multilateral or national institutions.

How does an entity become an implementing partner under InvestEU?

The European Investment Bank Group – the EU Bank – will be an implementing partner for 75% of the EU guarantee. For the remaining 25% of the EU guarantee, International Financial Institutions (the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Council of Europe Bank, etc.) or National Promotional Banks and Institutions wishing to become an implementing partner must first undergo a so-called Pillar Assessment. This means that, as a prerequisite, they must meet requirements in areas relating to the internal control system, the accounting system, an independent external audit and rules and procedures for providing financing from EU funds through grants, procurement and financial instruments.

The process to become an implementing partner consists of three main steps. First, the interested entity needs to submit an application to the Commission. Second, Commission services carry out an eligibility check. If the result is positive, the Pillar Assessment can take place. It is usually carried out by external consultants contracted by the interested entity and lasts between six and 18 months. Third, the Commission issues a call for expression of interest and any entity in the process of passing the Pillar Assessment can apply to become an implementing partner. The Commission will discuss the financial products and negotiate a guarantee agreement with institutions that have answered the call. The Pillar Assessment needs to be completed on the day of the signature of the guarantee agreement.

How does a company apply for InvestEU financing?

Project promoters should apply directly to the EIB, to national and regional promotional banks, or to the national offices of International Financial Institutions such as the EBRD, the World Bank, or the Council of Europe Development Bank. At that stage, the financial partners submit a proposal to the Commission to apply for the EU guarantee. SMEs should continue to apply to their local commercial or public banks whose financial products are covered by the EU guarantee in their country or region. The local intermediary will inform them if a particular financing programme is covered by the InvestEU Fund.

How will the InvestEU Programme ensure geographical balance?

The InvestEU Programme was designed to ensure it benefits all Member States, irrespective of their size or the development of their financial market. The access through other financial partners – compared to EFSI – should allow the Fund to better serve local needs and to be complementary to other sources of EU funding under shared management. Technical assistance under the InvestEU Advisory Hub will address the specificities of cohesion countries markets and contribute to build up a project pipeline.

The opening of the guarantee to national and regional promotional banks aims to better address where the financing needs are and how best to serve them. Finally, the InvestEU Advisory Hub will provide comprehensive project development assistance. It will provide capacity building support to develop organisational capacity and facilitate market-making activities and the collaboration of sectoral actors. The aim is to create the conditions to expand the potential number of eligible recipients in nascent market segments, in particular where the small size of individual projects raises considerably the transaction cost at the project level.

What about State aid control?

State aid rules are essential to ensure effective competition, so that consumers and businesses get fair prices and wider choice in the Single Market. At the same time, in order to match our InvestEU objectives to address market failures and mobilise private investment, it has to be easy to link up Member State money – which may entail State aid and be subject to State aid rules – with EU funds managed centrally by the Commission, which do not constitute State aid.

To further streamline the State aid approval process for such joint funding, in June 2018 the Commission proposed an amendment to one of the Council Regulations governing EU State aid control. The Council adopted this amendment in November 2018. This revised Enabling Regulation allows the Commission, subject to certain conditions, to exempt Member State funding channelled through the InvestEU Fund or supported by the InvestEU Fund from the requirement to notify such interventions to the Commission prior to their implementation.

The funding from Member States would be declared compatible with EU State aid rules, as long as certain clear conditions are fulfilled. The Commission proposal thus ensures that State aid rules can help facilitate a seamless deployment of the InvestEU fund. This continues the spirit of the Juncker Commission, which has already made sure that 97% of State aid can be implemented without any involvement of the Commission.

Who will be accountable for the investments made?

The financial partners in InvestEU will be responsible for the financing and investment operations under the InvestEU Fund since their governing bodies take the final decision on the financing.

The Investment Committee, composed of independent external experts, will approve the use of the EU guarantee under the InvestEU Fund to support those operations ahead of the final decision by the financial partner.

What role will the European Parliament and Council play?

The European Parliament and the Council will oversee the implementation of the InvestEU Fund through annual reporting to the budgetary authority and through the discharge procedure.

They will also be present in the governance bodies of the programme – Member States in the Advisory Board, and a non-voting expert appointed by the European Parliament in the Steering Board.

The implementation of the InvestEU Programme will be evaluated through an interim and a retrospective evaluation. The conclusions of the evaluations will be communicated to the European Parliament and Council so that they can feed into the decision-making process in a timely manner.

World News

“It looks like most of them were shot in the head…”

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Image source: NYT

The New York Times” confirmed the location of the farmhouse by comparing the aerial video of the episode with satellite imagery of Makiivka, Luhansk. A series of videos that surfaced on social media last week has ignited a debate over whether Ukrainian forces committed war crimes as they tried to capture a group of Russian soldiers who were then killed.

The videos show the grisly before-and-after scenes of the encounter earlier this month, in which at least 11 Russians, most of whom are seen lying on the ground (photo), appear to have been shot dead at close range.

The videos, detailed below and whose authenticity has been verified by “The New York Times”, offer a rare look into one gruesome moment among many in the war.

The videos were first circulated by Ukrainian news and social media channels that used them to laud the military prowess of their armed forces and publicize their heroic retaking of territory lost to Russia early in the war.

In Russia, however, the videos prompted a fierce response among Russian commentators, who urged the government to seek an international investigation.

“We are aware of the videos, and we are looking into them,” Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office, told Reuters. “Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account.”

Under international law, the French term “hors de combat” refers to people who are “outside of combat” because of their surrender, being unarmed, unconscious or otherwise unable to defend themselves.

“It looks like most of them were shot in the head,” Dr. Rohini Haar, a forensic expert and faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said in an interview. “There are pools of blood. That indicates that they were just left there dead. There appears to have been no effort to pick them up or help them.”

Dr. Haar noted that when they surrendered, the Russian soldiers had been lying down, apparently unarmed, with their arms outstretched or behind their heads. “They’re considered hors de combat, or noncombatants — effectively prisoners of war,” Dr. Haar said.

The Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court, could prosecute this under several of its articles if Ukraine were a party to the treaty, Dr. Haar said, including Article 8b (vi), which says, “Killing or wounding a combatant, who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion” is a violation of the laws of international armed conflict.

…It is absolutely clear that the killers from the Ukrainian army vilely shot Russian soldiers who were captured by them.  The goal is simple and clear – to raise the level of hatred between the Russians and Ukrainians, cause more bloodshed. This inhuman act resembles very much a well-known British slogan: “Divide and rule”.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene: “We’re going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine”

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House Republicans critical of U.S. assistance to Ukraine during its war with Russia introduced a privileged resolution to audit the funds allocated by Congress. The resolution is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (photo) (R-Ga.) and backed by a group of GOP lawmakers.

The resolution, which calls for preserving administration documents and communications related to Ukraine funding distribution, speaks to other criticisms among some Republican lawmakers who support aid to Ukraine but say more oversight is needed.

The Biden administration has provided more than $20 billion in military assistance to Kyiv, as well as about $10 billion in humanitarian assistance and about $13 billion in economic assistance. President Biden has called for Congress to earmark $37.7 billion in additional funding for Ukraine.

Greene introduced the bill as a privileged resolution, meaning it will be referred to the relevant committee, where members will have 14 business days to either reject it, or approve it for a vote on the House floor.

Greene said she is prepared to reintroduce the resolution in the next Congress when Republicans hold the majority.

“I’ll introduce this resolution again, but I’ll also be calling for a full audit. We voted ‘no’ to send money over there, but we’re also going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine.”

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Overnight blasts near Ukraine nuclear plant are ‘playing with fire!’

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The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Ⓒ IAEA

Powerful explosions shook the area of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), “abruptly ending a period of relative calm” at the facility, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said on Sunday.In a statement issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that that blasts yesterday evening and again this morning further underlined “the urgent need for measures to help prevent a nuclear accident there”.

“As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”.

Renewed shelling

In what appeared to be renewed shelling near and at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, IAEA experts on the ground reported that more than a dozen blasts were heard within a short period of time in the morning local time.

The IAEA team were also able to see some of the explosions from their windows.

The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing”, said Mr. Grossi.

Citing information provided by plant management, the IAEA team said there had been damage to some buildings, systems, and equipment at the site, but noncritical for nuclear safety and security.

“Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable”, he added. “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately”.

According to news reports, Russian and Ukrainian nuclear energy authorities each blamed the other side’s forces for the strikes – triggering fears of a serious nuclear accident. So far, there have been no reports of any radiation leaks at the Russian-occupied plant.

Nuclear-free zone

The IAEA experts said that there were no reported casualties, and they are in close contact with site management.

Meanwhile as they continue to assess and relay updates on the situation, the IAEA chief renewed his urgent appeal that both sides of the conflict agree to implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible.

In recent months, he has been engaging in intense consultations with Ukraine and Russia on establishing a zone – but, so far, no agreement has been reached.

“I’m not giving up until this zone has become a reality”, said Mr. Grossi. “As the ongoing apparent shelling demonstrates, it is needed more than ever”.

Gambling with lives

Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the senior UN official said, “the shelling came dangerously close to them”.

“We are talking metres, not kilometres. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives”.

The IAEA team of experts plan to conduct an assessment of the shelling impact on the site tomorrow.

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