On 9 March, the European Parliament officially endorsed the agreement on the InvestEU funding programme for strategic and innovative investments.
The InvestEU programme aims to support policy objectives pertaining to a sustainable and inclusive recovery, by facilitating the pooling of EU and private funding for investment projects in areas that urgently require additional investments, such as the healthcare sector. For instance, with a focus on research, innovation, and digitalisation, the programme aims to make investments as cost-effective as possible for a more resilient future.
- With €26 billion (in current prices) allocated from the European Union (EU) budget as a guarantee, this allocation will back the investment projects of financial partners and increase their risk-bearing capacity. An estimated multiplier effect, the programme is expected to account for a financial bundle of €400 billion in investments for the programme from 2021-2027. As such the public guarantee will be directed towards the following policy objectives:
- Sustainable infrastructure (approximately 38%)
- Research, innovation and digitalisation (25%)
- Small and Medium Enterprises (approximately 26%)
- Social investment and skills (approximately 11%) comprise health and long-term care.
- The InvestEU initiative will aim to facilitate strategic, sustainable, and innovative investments in specific sectors, including healthcare, for the development of new effective and accessible healthcare products, such as:
- Medical devices & supplies,
- Innovative development processes that avoid using animal testing, and
- ICT components.
- Moreover, investments are also geared towards the development, deployment, and scaling-up of digital technologies and services, which contribute to the objectives of the Digital Europe Programme.
- In response to this, the leading MEP from the Budgets Committee José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT) emphasised the need for public and private investments that could boost the independence of strategic sectors, such as pharmaceuticals. On behalf of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Irene Tinagli (S&D, IT) further stated that InvestEU will help support national recovery and resilience endeavors.
- Congruent with the EU’s narrative for an “open strategic autonomy”, the InvestEU programme would aim to support the revitalisation of specific sectors impacted by COVID-19. As a potential financial avenue for making the healthcare sector more resilient by means of innovative solutions and digitalisation, the programme could therefore serve as a springboard for investment within the EU.
- It is also worth noting that the prospect of a “public guarantee” from the EU indicates the additional drive to attract private investment in projects since finances are proactively being put aside to absorb any potential losses in the implementation phase. It is however unclear at this stage how EU public funds would be utilised in these investments and whether there is an opportunity to obtain EU support in the pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors.
- Although specific guidance on the types of investment offered by the programme has yet to be determined, the initiative presents potential in addressing the market failures that were exacerbated by the public health crisis and thus will likely offer a key opportunity for sectoral stakeholders to directly engage in the proceedings.