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EU/EBRD SME Competitiveness Programme in Eastern Partnership (EaP) - Project Consultant
Since 1998, Partnership and Cooperation Agreements have been providing comprehensive frameworks for cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries in various areas of reform. Association Agreements (AAs), including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) were signed in June 2014 by Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Since then, the EBRD set up and implemented a DCFTA programme (under the brand EU4BUSINESS EBRD Credit Line) since 2016 to assist businesses in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in the context of the ratification by these countries of DCFTA. Two phases of the DCFTA programme have already taken place and are due to finish soon. At the same time, it has become clear to the EU that extending the support to SME developed through the DCFTA programme to other EaP countries - namely Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – would be appropriate to pursue.
The purpose of the new EU/EBRD SME Competitiveness Programme in Eastern Partnership (EaP) (the “Programme”) is to increase the capability of SMEs in the six countries to access and face competition on the EU market, through supporting the implementation of the EU standards at SME level in the field of environmental protection, occupational health and safety and product quality and safety. This Programme will address the key areas of vulnerability for SME businesses, namely access to funding, preferably longer term and in local currency, through locally operating financial intermediaries, for investments meeting EU standards and promoting the use of green technologies, thereby enhancing SME competitiveness locally and regionally. Progress with the adoption of the EU acquis communautaire will involve significant regulatory changes, which will require new investments in order for enterprises to comply with the new standards. Assisting SMEs to understand the new regulations and meet their investment needs is also consistent with the EBRD’s strategy, wherein supporting access to finance for this crucial segment is a continuing objective for the Bank. Furthermore, in line with the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition Approach (GET), it expected that a significant amount of green economy technologies will be financed under the Programme and accounted as part of the Sub-projects’ results. The EBRD will specifically provide senior debt financing to selected Participating Financial Institutions (“PFIs”) committed to the overall objectives under the EU Agreement of the EU SME Competitiveness Programme in Eastern Partnership. Building on the success results so far of the EU/EBRD DCFTA ‘EU4Business’ credit lines, it is envisaged that under the new Programme, at least EUR 300 million will be provided by the EBRD in loans to various PFIs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Technical Assistance (TA) will be provided throughout the life of the Programme, while the risk mitigation and investment incentives will be tailored to the individual circumstances in each country and will follow consistent criteria and choice of instruments as well as key terms agreed in the investment legal documentation. Investment incentives to sub-borrowers will be made available on verification by an independent verification consultant (the "Verification Consultant" or "VC") that sub-projects have been successfully implemented. The VC will be subject to a separate procurement notice.
In this context the EBRD seeks here to engage a Project Consultant (the "PC" or the "Consultant") to assist with the implementation and monitoring of the Programme.
As in previous phases of the DCFTA, the EU has asked the EBRD’s support and expertise to facilitate the implementation of the Programme and has approved the proposed structure and grants to support the overarching objective to transfer the strategic know-how and raise awareness of the EU Directives, in order to contribute to increasing the capability of SMEs in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and to support (actual or potential) export-oriented SMEs operating in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus who choose to upgrade their operations to EU standards as well as raise awareness of green technologies and their adoption over incumbent technologies.
The objectives of this assignment are to support the EBRD’s investments and to:
• Prepare the ground for the implementation of the Programme and subsequently assist in its implementation.
• Ensure that there is a pipeline of investment projects that meet the eligibility criteria embedded into investment projects.
• Provide support to (i) PFIs by evaluating technical proposals of their sub-borrowers and potential sub-borrowers which have been assessed for compliance with the eligibility criteria;
(ii) sub-borrowers (depending on the type and/or size of the investment) by helping them to formulate the investments technical proposals.
• Ensure that the widest range of stakeholders is informed about the Programme and more generally with respect to raising awareness of implementation of EU standards in order to ensure a prompt uptake of the financing and the related benefits, including by working with Visibility Consultants, managing the Programme’s website and “help desk” with dedicated phone lines in each country, participating (as observer) to Steering Committee ("SC") meetings if and when required.
• Coordinate activities related to implementation and monitoring of the Programme, including collecting and analysing data and prepare reports for the various stakeholders (via the EBRD’s Operation Leader) as well as presenting them at the Steering Committee meetings (if required).
The key tasks of the PC include, but are not limited to, the following:
· Marketing materials and raising awareness activities;
· Assistance to PFIs in originating pipelines of potential sub-borrowers/projects;
· Validation of eligibility for each individual sub-project and calculation of appropriate investment incentive amount;
· Sub-Project appraisal and preparation: Two different approaches will be followed by the PC for the technical appraisal of sub-projects: a) a simple List of Eligible Technologies (LET) approach for investments, which will be based on items from the LET; and b) a Complex approach where individual investment plans, detailing the technologies, equipment and facilities requiring upgrading in order to be complaint with the EU Directives and Regulations, which will be prepared by the PC through preliminary investigations, site visit(s) and acquisition of additional information to assess the scope and compliance with eligibility criteria and GET eligibility.
· Establish and maintain the LET for relevant sub-projects; Training and Capacity Building;
· Ensure the correct tracking, monitoring and reporting of the Programme data;
· Promoting Green Investments across the Programme;
· Assistance with the preparation of the Steering Committee meetings and grant administration.