Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Government Business
Today, I was pleased to meet with Jonathan Taylor, the UK Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), at the Bank's Luxembourg headquarters. We held extremely positive discussions on how Wales can benefit from the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI). Mr Taylor welcomed the significant progress that has been made in Wales, in terms of developing a pipeline of credible infrastructure investment schemes. As a result of the work that we have done to develop and promote this pipeline, the Vice President was very much aware of, and eager to collaborate on the wide range of financing opportunities across Wales. This includes working closely on the redevelopment of the Velindre Cancer Centre, dualling of sections 5 and 6 of the A465 and the 21st Century Schools Programme. We also discussed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and the South Wales Metro, as well as the potential for investment platforms that could see groups of borrowers in the Housing, Flood Defence, Transport, and Further Education sectors aggregate their financing needs.
In addition to exploring the opportunities for EFSI financing in Wales, we also discussed how Wales might best benefit from the expertise of the EU Advisory Hub. The Vice President welcomed my invitation for experts from the Advisory Hub to visit Wales to share their expertise with project sponsors here. This engagement will build on the work already ongoing with the EIB’s European PPP Expertise Centre to support the design and delivery of a number of Welsh Government schemes that will require project finance in due course, including financing through vehicles such as the EFSI.
The EFSI is expected to be fully operational by September and today’s engagement with the EIB was an important step to ensure that Wales is best placed to access EFSI financing over the four years in which the new instrument will be operational. This engagement built on my earlier discussions with the European Commission, which took place in March, and enabled me to showcase infrastructure investment schemes in Wales with the potential to access financing through the EFSI, and indeed, through the wider suite of EIB financing instruments.
The Welsh Government recognises the important opportunity that the EFSI provides to boost much needed investment across Europe and I will continue to work closely with EIB and European Commission to make the case for Wales and investment in Welsh schemes.