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The JESSICA Action in Italy 2007-2013

Bottlenecks, Opportunities, and Directions for the Future

Federica Fotino

The urban renewal and regeneration market is not homogenous. The widespread presence of urban areas suffering from difficult social and economic conditions is one of the main challenges that many regions in the European Union face. One of the instruments for supporting investments within urban communities, complementary to public grant funding, are Financial Engineering Instruments (FEIs). A new policy initiative was developed by the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) to facilitate managing authorities’ (MAs) investment in urban development: The Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA or “the Initiative” or “the Action”). This paper aims to support the debate for a stronger deployment of Financial Instruments (FIs) in the context of cohesion policy, while also anticipating their implementation to support sustainable urban development. For improved utilisation of FIs in the future, it is essential to capitalise on experience from the 2007-13 programming period, which may be relevant for the establishment and effective implementation of FIs promoting the urban agenda in 2014-20. This article focuses on the implementation of JESSICA in Italian competitiveness and employment regions, provides an overview of the main difficulties encountered, and presents practical suggestions on how these bottlenecks can be addressed. Experiences from 2007-13 are used as springboard to look ahead, providing recommendations targeting the various stakeholders at the administrative and operation levels (i.e. EC, MAs, local authorities, and project promoters).


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