The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) can be better utilized if its visibility is increased and provision of information to end users improved, said the speakers at the conference on Friday.
The conference, entitled "The European Fund for Strategic Investments - Advantages and Opportunities for Enterprises and Local Communities," was organised by the European Commission Representation, Croatian MEP Ivana Maletic and the Hanza Media company.
EFSI is an initiative launched by the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group and the European Commission to help overcome the current investment gap in the European Union by mobilising private investment in projects strategically important for the EU.
Economy Minister Martina Dalic spoke at the conference, and said that the new EU member states cannot be happy with the distribution of projects, because the most developed member states contracted the most valuable projects and investments. She added that additional efforts should be made in promoting investment opportunities under this plan.
The old, and most developed, member states use 88.5 percent of the funds, while the newer members account for only 11.5 percent.
According to MEP Ivana Maletic, the EFSI issues guarantees for the financing of riskier projects which would otherwise not be able to get funding. She said that the aim was to mobilise as many private sources of funding as possible, and invest in small and medium businesses.
The Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, also present at the conference, said that all authorities should do their best to simplify the procedures and to facilitate the use of EU funding, adding that the key problem for countries like Croatia was the visibility of the fund itself, making it necessary to acquaint all the stakeholders with its possibilities.
Twelve projects worth €219 million in total have been approved for Croatia so far and they should generate €836 million worth of investment. Of this number, five have been granted by the European Investment Bank for small and medium enterprises, tourism and energy.