In June 2015, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) came into force. It is part of the Investment Plan for Europe, the major instrument to address the first key priority of the Juncker Commission on job creation, growth and investment.
The objectives are:
- to mobilise private investment;
- to ensure that investments reach the real economy;
- to improve the investment environment at European and national levels.
In order to establish EFSI, 2.2 billion euros were taken out of Horizon 2020 - the EU's current framework programme for research and innovation whose important beneficiaries are European universities. While EUA warned against this in various statements (see EUA policy brief, May 2015), the European Commission (EC) argued that EFSI would also benefit universities and research and thus tried to justify the cut to Horizon 2020. This was also translated into the EFSI regulation. One of the objectives is to "support research, development and innovation, in particular through support to academia including collaboration with industry" (EFSI regulation 2015/1017, art. 9.2 a-g).
Now, one year later, it is time to assess what EFSI has brought so far and whether it lives up to its promises. On 1 June 2016, the European Commission issued a communication to take stock of the Investment Plan for Europe and announce its next steps. Therefore, EUA looked into the projects that have been funded by EFSI so far, and analysed to what extent they really benefit research and universities.