Between Scylla and Charybdis: Navigating financial engineering instruments through Structural Fund and State aid requirements

Cite as: Michie, R., & Wishlade, F. (2011) Between Scylla and Charybdis: Navigating financial engineering instruments through Structural Fund and State aid requirements IQ-Net Thematic Paper, Vol. 29, No.2, European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The increased use of non-grant financial instruments in Cohesion policy programmes overthe last few programme periods, which is predicted to continue into the next period, has been described by Commissioner Johannes Hahn as a ‘profound cultural shift’. Managing authorities have been setting up and implementing complex co-funded financial instruments in an uncertain economic climate, often facing a steep learning curve. Financial engineering instruments (FEIs) can play an important role in the delivery of policy objectives. Their purpose is to enable public sector capital to be used on a commercialbasis (e.g. through holding funds, venture capital funds, loan funds and guarantee fundmechanisms) and, in some cases, to stimulate the participation of private sector capital inorder to increase the scale, effectiveness and efficiency of policy measures. The aim of this paper is to examine how non-grant financial instruments are being used within Cohesion policy programmes of the IQ-Net authorities. IQ-Net partners represent a diverse range of operational programmes in terms of size,and the proportion of OP funds spent on FEIs varies substantially, reflecting factors such asthe national/regional context, size of OP, national and regional priorities, and existingdomestic provision. The paper takes a case study approach, focusing on one fund in each partner programme, to assess experiences with programming and implementation of finanical instruments.

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