"The future of JASPERS"
Ladies and gentlemen,
The various presentations of today have underlined the fact that JASPERS has had a huge impact on delivering better EU projects.
JASPERS has spearheaded close to 1 000 completed projects as of today and widened the scope of advisory support over its 10 years of existence to better cater to needs on the ground.
Vast networks have been developed and experience is shared amongst all its stakeholders. JASPERS is an established player in the market and renowned for the quality of its work.
On a personal note, I have met JASPERS colleagues in Luxembourg and recently visited the JASPERS regional office in Vienna. I have been very impressed by their professionalism and commitment to working together with the stakeholders to deliver better projects faster in the EU Member States. This is exactly what JASPERS is all about, providing concrete results that contribute to the quality of individual projects and to the European economy itself.
The needs in terms of project development are enormous and we are still reminded every day of the regional disparities and different economic and social challenges. JASPERS remains more than ever an important tool for addressing these issues.
It is evident that the current economic environment remains difficult. The overall level of investment – both public and private – is still 15% lower than it was before the beginning of the financial crisis. It would probably be misleading to see JASPERS as the silver bullet that can bridge the investment gap. Rather it would be appropriate to see JASPERS as a key player for filling a different sort of gap: the lack of quality advice on projects. It is this very specific support for the European economy that JASPERS can and will provide. For this JASPERS will focus on its three newly defined strands: (i) advisory services, (ii) project review and (iii) competence.
This status quo of JASPERS is best understood by looking back into the past for a moment. There are two main changes in JASPERS’ work that have taken place in the last two years: Traditionally JASPERS’ advisory role was seen as supporting the development of major projects and providing upstream advice on the development of sector strategies. In 2014 the scope of this work was augmented by new activities: the Independent Quality Review (IQR), a Networking and Competence Centre (NCC) and a Quality Management Unit (QMU).
And in June 2015, JASPERS was requested by the DG REGIO Board to provide a post-submission appraisal function to the Commission for all major projects submitted directly to the EC. This, in combination with the request for the IQR function, means that JASPERS will appraise all projects over the forthcoming period, so that there is a consistent approach adapted to both channels under the same regulation. This is expected to significantly increase the coverage of JASPERS work.
Looking ahead, we are now confronted with higher speed, higher flexibility and higher innovation to assist strategies, programmes and projects; to review and appraise projects in a vast number of sectors and to boost capacity building at large in order to move the EU forward. President Hoyer has already mentioned our growth into new countries, broadening our geographical scope both inside and outside the EU. With this in mind the JASPERS of tomorrow will:
• continue to deliver in key sectors;
• maintain its focus on quality advice. This might lead eventually to a larger quantity of advice but that is not the ultimate goal;
• deepen and enhance our expertise in core sectors such as transport and the environment, taking into account horizontal activities like climate change, state aid and other horizontal issues;
• develop the more recent sectors of financing activity in the EIB’s portfolio, such as energy and smart development, which include:
o education, training and health;
o research, development and innovation;
o information and communication technology (ICT), including broadband, and contributing to the digital agenda;
o urban development, regeneration and smart cities.
At the same time, we shall continue to base our action on partnership and cooperation with our stakeholders.
Let me now give you some concrete areas of development, focusing first on the newer non-traditional sectors in JASPERS.
The energy sector is catering for large energy infrastructure projects but also expanding its activities that involve smaller projects. A major focus of funding from European Structural and Investment Funds is to assist the "low-carbon economy". A large part of the investment in this area will be on a small scale and can be grouped under so-called “project schemes”. For example, JASPERS has already assisted with the setting up of thermal rehabilitation schemes in Romania and Croatia. It is also giving support to smaller district heating projects, which then can be replicated elsewhere using the experiences and advice already provided.
JASPERS activities in education, training and health are expected to promote the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training, with its four key objectives: (i) lifelong learning, (ii) quality and efficiency of education and training, (iii) spurring social cohesion and (iv) enhancing creativity and innovation. It is crucial that we help projects in these areas to materialise. Here we can also mention some recent JASPERS e-school activities in Croatia for example.
Research, development and Innovation (RDI) and support for the EU2020 agenda and Horizon2020 are already areas where JASPERS has provided substantial support. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of joint partnerships in this area. These partnerships bring together different stakeholders, which include managing authorities, universities, industry players, SMEs, incubators and others. All in all, this support for RDI activity is key to setting up clusters or innovation centres.
Let me give you one such example of a joint RDI project, the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), which has the potential to become a flagship EU project. ELI is scheduled to be the world’s first international laser research infrastructure, with facilities in three different locations initially: the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. Each facility will have unprecedented technical specifications, with a focus on different, well-defined areas of laser technology research. The facilities are scheduled to become operational in 2018, and they will offer open access for non-commercial research. It is a truly joint EU project.
JASPERS is also active in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. The majority of major ICT projects supported so far have been related to broadband, where important contributions have been made in Poland, Romania and Greece, for instance. Bearing in mind the importance of the Digital Agenda for Europe, the number of new ICT projects can be expected to be steady, not only for broadband but also for different kinds of public e-services, such as e-procurement, e-health and e-government.
Another task will be important going forward: JASPERS providing support for urban projects. The recent refugee and migrant crisis is putting our urban areas under stress. Viable urban solutions are necessary. JASPERS is in a position to assist in finding integrated solutions to deliver a range of projects, including smart city solutions. Projects in Poland are paving the way here and our colleagues are exploring the road ahead.
Secondly, traditional sectors such as transport will continue to play a key role in the future of JASPERS. The emphasis will be on how to establish a modern and safe infrastructure. Here the focus remains on large-scale projects, particularly in relation to the Trans-European Transport Network corridors in the context of a low-carbon economy and sustainable transport.
In the water sector, JASPERS will further continue to focus on investments in expanding the water supply and wastewater infrastructure, with the aim of complying with applicable EU Directives. JASPERS is already regularly involved in water projects at the conceptual stage, particularly when a multi-municipal approach could prove more cost-efficient and affordable with regard to achieving EU compliance. In parallel, there is an increasing demand for JASPERS’ expertise in the areas of flood risk and disaster management.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The past achievements of JASPERS are outstanding. JASPERS has proved to be a success story and has evolved into the core European advisory activity under the auspices of the EIB. The need for JASPERS’ services is there and will continue in the future, as the expansion of JASPERS’ activity to all Member States has demonstrated.
JASPERS is a partnership, and as a partnership it builds on an integrated approach, on synergies and on making best use of the joint stakeholders’ resources. This has been a winning formula and it is to be maintained. JASPERS will continue to count on the support of all of you.
Going forward the focus of JASPERS will be increasingly on the quality of its work: The Member States have made it clear that it is quality advice that is required to enhance their projects and attract investors.
The message is: There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Rather, JASPERS should build on its past success and increasingly improve and refine the quality of its work. The mission is and remains to make a difference.
With this I would like to close this first day of celebration of JASPERS’ ten-year anniversary. I hope that you have found today’s debate inspiring. I sincerely thank you for your participation and attention and wish you a very pleasant evening.