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AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT & FOOD SECURITY IN EU EXTERNAL ACTION INSTRUMENTS
Agriculture - 07/08/2015

The event was focused on external financing in sustainable agriculture and food security. It gathered about a hundred participants for a whole day and among them, 70 European companies and operators.

Following a comprehensive introduction on external financing and modalities about the European procurement rules, the Chief of Agriculture Unit at DG DEVCO (Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development)  presented the state of play as well as the strategy and goals of the European Commission  as regards to agriculture through the EU external aid instruments and detailed some opportunities that will be aimed at EU companies.

On the 2014-2020 period, more than 8.8 billions euros (as much as 80% through regional instruments and 20% through thematic instruments) will be dedicated to projects int the field of sustainable agriculture and food security. More than 60 countries include agriculture in their priority sectors. Part of these funds will be distributed through procurement to which EU companies could submit a tender. The Head of Agriculture unit insisted on the importance to get the private sector involved into development and especially into the investment aspect of development. He gave a quick snapshot at the new AgriFi initiative whose governance and implementation were not yet defined at the time of the event. The envelope dedicated to Agrifi will amount to 40 M€ at the first stage and could reach up to  200 M€ according to future results ; AgriFi will particularly rely on value chains. This initiative would allow investors to take wider risks notably through various modalities available through blending. Private investors, European financial institutions and Member States agencies as well as the civil society would be associated to the Initiative that would focus on small and middle size projects.

This presentation was followed by four other presentations by different units of the Commission in charge of geographical programmes – Development and Cooperation Instrument (DCI), European Neighbourhood   Instrument (ENI- South/East) and Instrument for Pre-adhesion (IPA) – for every one of which speakers identified countries benefiting from a European support in the field of agriculture, either at the institutional and  business levels or on projects that may be of interest of EU operators.

The second part of the conference focused on implementation according to the new 2015 version of PRAG (Practical Guide to Contract Procedures for EU External Actions) and through blending modalities for financing.  

As far as the blending facilities were concerned, the Commission acknowledged that up to now, the agricultural sector and the private sector were not fully considered as focal sectors per se in the external aid programmes (ie. less than 10% of projects have been allowed to the private sector). This situation could change given that blending envelopes will be substantially increased.  

The last presentation was made by EIB. The financial institution promoted its sovereign loans for value chains and gave the example of horticultural chain in Moldavia that was granted a blending of 120 M€ loan and 8.2 M€ grant. 

The afternoon was dedicated to business-to-business meetings between the different European companies and operators. DEVCO and EIB Helpdesks would provide individual information to the participants.