Pillar assessment is an external audit of bank´s processes and systems conducted under the supervision of and in line with the rules set by the European Commission. It proved to be a long process, which started in January 2018 with legal and eligibility check, continued in 2020 with the audit itself and finished in August 2023 when the NRB received a notification letter confirming the positive outcome of the audit. This means that the NRB was verified as being able to ensure the same level of protection of EU financial interests as the Commission itself. As a result, the NRB is now eligible to become an implementing partner for indirectly managed Union programmes, particularly for InvestEU.
Today, most of our programs are financed from the European Structural and Investment Funds. We partner with various ministries acting as Managing Authorities of the respective operational programs. Besides that, there are also the so-called indirectly managed programs. They are run by the Commission and managed by implementing partners. Only pillar-assessed entities, mostly national promotional banks and international financial institutions, can become implementing partners. “In the last few years, most of European promotional banks have sought to acquire the status of an implementing partner under InvestEU. We are among those who succeeded in their effort. And we are among the first pillar-assessed promotional banks in the CEE region,” says Tomáš Nidetzký, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NRB.
NRB is expected to become an implementing partner this year as it is in the final stage of negotiating a Guarantee Agreement with the Commission under the Member State Compartment of InvestEU. With the support from this program, we can continue with our flagship guarantee program. The current program called GUARANTEE 2015-2023 ends in November this year. Until now, this program has supported more than 20,000 SMEs with the total volume of guaranteed loans reaching almost EUR 2.5 billion. “Participation in the InvestEU program is an important step forward. Close cooperation with the Commission will enable us to guarantee a significantly larger volume of working capital and investment loans to small and medium-sized enterprises as well as to small mid-caps, including those located in Prague,” adds Tomáš Nidetzký. and continues: “InvestEU will help us to foster private investments and thus to strengthen the Czech economy, which has not yet fully recovered from the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, energy crisis and the war in Ukraine.”
Nevertheless, the vision of the NRB goes beyond the current InvestEU program. “Being a pillar-assessed entity and becoming an implementing partner is an important milestone for the NRB. It is obvious that the Commission takes promotional banks more and more as key partners in reaching the EU policy goals. Thus, the possibilities for the collaboration between the Commission and promotional banks will gradually increase,” concludes Tomáš Nidetzký.