The European Commission and European Investment Bank have launched a new advisory service to help cities plan investments.
Cities face particular challenges when it comes to accessing finance. Individual municipal projects, for example in the fields of social inclusion, urban regeneration or energy efficiency, can be too risky or too small for the market. At the same time, funding for integrated urban programmes can also be difficult to access, because they group several small projects across different sectors. Finally, cities can also face borrowing limits.
URBIS intends to help cities tackle these specific issues. It will help them design, plan and implement their investment strategies and projects, with tailor-made technical and financial advice, also on innovative financing options. The objective is to see solid projects get off the ground in the short to medium-term, for example in the field of urban climate actions.
URBIS will help:
- Improve a city's investment strategy by giving advice in strategic planning, prioritising and optimising of investment programmes and projects.
- Bring projects and investment programmes to a bankable stage, for example by providing analysis on demand or support in financial structuring and by reviewing draft grant applications.
- Explore opportunities for financing under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), Cohesion Policy funds — under which over €100 billion is being invested in urban areas over 2014-2020 — or both combined.
- Support the preparation work for investment platforms and facilities combining funds, liaise with financial intermediaries and set up implementation arrangements for these facilities.
- Develop financing approaches aiming at alleviating the burden on municipal debt and at helping municipal companies and private urban service providers access funding.
URBIS will consist of European Investment Bank (EIB) experts from the institution's different advisory and project services, including EIB staff located across member states and experts from JASPERS, the independent team specialised in preparing quality EU-funded projects.
Where needed, it would bring on board experts who can explain how to blend EU funds with national and local promotional banks financing and with innovative financing opportunities. For example, such opportunities include impact investments, i.e. investments made into companies or funds with the aim to trigger social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
Cities of all sizes in all member states can apply for URBIS' support via a web page hosted on the European Investment and Advisory Hub.