On 23rd January 2018, the High-Level Task Force on Investing in Social Infrastructure in Europe, chaired by Romano Prodi and Christian Sautter, presented its final report. Established in February 2017 by the European Association of Long-Term Investors (ELTI), and including CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti, the High-Level Task Force’s mission was to raise political attention to the crucial role of social infrastructure and related services, aiming to enhance public and private investments in this sector. Investment in social infrastructure, both private and public, is far from reaching the level needed to cater for the EU’s current population, nor is the investment always appropriate in view of changing needs and expectations over the coming decades.
To answer this infrastructure gap, the report identifies how to shift from the present scenario with a major social investment gap, towards a scenario we define as ‘smart capacitating strategies’, by focusing efforts on empowering people. In this context, the report illustrates how major bottlenecks could be removed by – among other things – improving technical assistance, financial and non-financial regulatory affairs and facilitating financing.
Proposals are articulated around three main ideas.
- “Labelling” National and European institutions could grant labels to projects according to social efficiency criteria. These labels could facilitate identification and, in turn, the financing of these projects.
- “Bundling” projects. As most projects are small-scale projects, requiring a limited amount of investment, bringing them together could reduce the fixed costs and favour their dissemination.
- “Blending” financing. In the current state of the economy, financing for these projects cannot come from one single body. Mixing public and private financing and/or using social impact bonds, could facilitate the access of Social Infrastructure to financing, while maintaining their unique benefits for the community.
Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary and member of the High-Level Task Force, commented:
“For us, this report shows that very different actors, including bankers, agreed and recommended a setup for a clear EU Social Infrastructure agenda to the Commission, Member States, and all relevant stakeholders. CEEP has been advocating for years that social infrastructures represent an investment in the future and not a cost: this report backs this argument with clear figures and will support our call for creating a single EU fund within the next Multi-annual Financial Framework to support investments, with a dedicated window for social infrastructures. This will create an even better social Europe, reconnecting citizens to the EU project: a “renaissance for social Europe”, to quote Christian Sauter, co-chair of the Task Force.”