The Commission presented a proposal on a pilot phase for project bonds under the current multiannual financial framework (2007-2013) in October 2011. After the Council reached an agreement on the Commission’s proposal, the Council and the European Parliament entered into negotiations on the proposal. These negotiations have now been concluded, and the institutions agreed to work for a fast formal adoption of the proposal to ensure that implementation can be launched already in July 2012.
The rationale behind project bonds is to ensure easy capital access for profitable projects that are hampered by the short term economic situation. In this way, a leverage effect can be generated, which is greater than the normal EU-budget support for infrastructure projects. The EU and EIB will guarantee a share of the project bonds and thereby enhance the prospects for a better credit rating. An improved credit rating will enable the specific projects to attract investments from the capital market such as pension funds, making it possible to finance larger infrastructure projects in the EU by issuing project bonds with a longer time frame.
According to the Commission, it is possible to attract private investors in the size of 15-20 times the EU contribution, and thereby investments up to €4.5 billion could be mobilised. The number of issued project bonds under the pilot phase will depend on the number and the size of eligible projects and the interest from private investors.
The pilot phase comes before a later decision on whether and how project bonds and other financial instrument will be included in the EU’s multiannual financial framework 2014-2020. The pilot phase makes it possible to acquire experience with project bonds on a smaller scale. In the period 2012-2013, €230 million is set a side for the pilot phase from EU’s existing infrastructure budget.
The Danish Minister of Finance Bjarne Corydon comments:
“Growth and job creation is very high on the Danish Presidency’s list of priorities. Denmark is committed to reprioritize funds in a way that makes the EU-budget contribute in the best possible way to strengthen the competitiveness and growth opportunities of the member states. The agreement on the pilot phase for the Project bonds may help us acquire the experience needed to create further growth and employment in Europe, and I am very pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement between the Council and the Parliament”.