Wilhelm Molterer, the Vice President of the European Investment Bank told the EU financial instruments conference that with over half the European population living in rural areas agriculture is very important to the EU.

He said that a competitive agriculture and food supply keeps people from migrating away from the countryside.

Investment in rural Europe, he said, is significantly below the peak of 2008.

Commercial banks, he said, do not have the capacity to finance this investment, so Europe must from a central level. “We need new ideas on how to improve access to financial sources for farmers and agricultural SMEs.

“We need to improve access to finance for agriculture.”

Agriculture, he said, is in the core of the European Investment Bank’s business. He said upstream activities (inputs and machinery); national resource management and primary production, transport storage/quality control infrastructure, processing facilities such as dairy processors, and byproduct usage were examples of areas of where support is available.

Czesław Adam Siekierski, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, European Parliament said the efficiency of grant aid is on the way out and new financial instruments would replace them.

Molterer said that financial instruments would ensure investments are more solid as it will be ‘bankable’ projects the EU will look to finance.