On 28 November 2016, Housing Europe Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards was speaking at the EASPD seminar in Brussels on the occasion of the European Day of Persons with Disabilities. The aim of the Policy seminar was to give information to EASPD members (social service providers) about EFSI and its potential to be used for social service projects. Sorcha presented the perspective of Housing Europe and how affordable housing providers use EFSI for social inclusion purposes.
Sorcha's key messages may be summarized as follows:
- Investments should target local projects of the civil sphere
- Flexible and faster funding procedures needed (low-cost capital funding)
- Significant added value needs to be delivered to the sector so it can generate the multiple socio-economic benefits
- Prioritize result-oriented approach
The event was very timely as the proposal of the European Commission on EFSI 2.0 will be shortly debated between EU institutions. The participants of the seminar very much agreed that the extension of EFSI should equally target the social and economic cohesion.
Concerning the next steps on the issue, EFSI 2.0 is subject to a Trilogue between the institutions. The Council gave its position on the proposal in December and the discussion starts in February 2017 with the European Parliament. The regulation requires a qualified majority for adoption by the Council, in agreement with the European Parliament. If the European Parliament shares the Council views, that is good news for our sector, especially because the Council proposes:
- to extend the duration of EFSI;
- the introduction of technical enhancements for the European Advisory Hub;
- to earmark 40% of EFSI financing for infrastructure and innovation window for projects in line with COP21 commitments;
- to focuse on project sustainability;
- Enhancement of geographical coverage: reinforcing the take-up in less developed regions;
- Reinforce the social dimension by additional financial instruments.