ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

Wednesday 7 March, 12.30pm to 2pm, 14 rue de la Science, Brussels, (sandwich lunch served at 12pm)

As European member states are looking for new ways to finance infrastructure projects and inject new growth, ACCA is holding a lunchtime debate which gives an update on the state of play of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) in Europe, and to share best practices.

Open discussions will be based on the findings of the ACCA commissioned report Taking Stock of PPPs and PFIs Around the World and the current EU initiatives on concessions and public procurements.

In the midst of the most significant financial crisis in decades, and in the context of severe budgetary constraints across Europe, member states are seeking new forms of financing to support sustainable public services. New ways of collaboration between public bodies, such as local authorities or central government, and private companies (PPPs and PFIs), are at the heart of governments' attempts to revive their public services and are widely adopted by countries across Europe to finance new infrastructure projects. 

As indicated in its 2009 communication on Mobilising private and public investment for recovery and long term structural change: developing public private partnerships, the European Commission believes an adequate legal framework for PPPs and the award of concession contracts would favour public and private investment in infrastructure and strategic services as best value for money. In light of this, the EU executive has recently launched a package on public procurements including namely a new proposal for the directive on concessions.

In some cases PFIs and PPPs remain controversial with numerous questions being raised. Their advocates argue they are a fast and efficient way to offer public services and finance innovation due to the know-how of private finance, management skills and financial acumen of the business community. Question marks linked to high financing costs, limits on how far taxes can be raised, or whether they represent value for money are common. Some commentators are also particularly concerned about the extension of the private sector into areas such as schools and hospitals which have traditionally been publicly run. 

As a result, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) commissioned a research report called Taking Stock of PPP and PFI Around the World conducted by the Manchester Business School. It examines ten case studies from countries including France and the UK, outlining their experiences of PPPs and PFIs. It provides an up-to-date view of developments in Europe and contrasts these with the diffusion, evolution and translation into practice with Asian countries. Its findings and conclusions are controversial on issues such as whether PFIs and PPPs deliver value for money and the accounting treatment on PFIs’ and PPPs’ promotion. The report also touches on lessons learnt by governments that have entered into PFIs' and PPPs' arrangements. 

Please confirm your participation by 29 February by responding to cecile.bonino@accaglobal.com

Draft agenda 

12pm-12.30pm: Registration and lunch 

12.30pm: Welcome by the Chair, Gillian Fawcett, head of Public Sector at ACCA 

12.35pm: Presentation of the key findings from the Taking Stock of PPP and PFI Around the World report, by Professor Graham Winch, Manchester Business School, and Elisabeth Campagnac, Directrice de recherche LATTS (Labroratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés) from the Université Paris Est Ecole des Ponts Paris Tech 

12.50pm: Roundtable moderated by Gillian Fawcett, head of Public Sector at ACCA, with:

o Lukasz Rozanski, public procurement unit, DG MARKT 

o Heide Ruehle, MEP  

o Bernard Huvelin, Vice President of Vinci, member of the Economic and Social Committee 

o Klaus Heeger, Secretary general of CESI, Confederation  Europeenne des  Syndicats  Independants  

1.30pm: Q&As 

2pm: Conclusions