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EU Finance Ministers agree on the investment plan fund

EU Finance Ministers agreed on the Regulation to set up the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which will be at the heart of the Commission´s €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe. The decision clears a major hurdle on the path to matching ample liquidity reserves with potential investment projects.

National Promotional Banks have a crucial role to play in getting Europe investing again. They have the expertise to carry out the Investment Plan, and they ensure the most efficient use of public resources. Italy is now the fourth country to announce a contribution through its National Promotional Bank: Germany announced in February that it would contribute €8 billion to the Investment Plan through KfW. Also in February, Spain announced a €1.5 billion contribution through Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO), and France last Friday announced a €8 billion pledge through Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) and Bpifrance (BPI).

The economic crisis brought about a sharp reduction of investment across Europe. That is why collective and coordinated efforts at European level are needed to reverse this downward trend and put Europe on the path of economic recovery. Adequate levels of resources are available and need to be mobilised across the EU in support of investment. There is no single, simple answer, no growth button that can be pushed, and no one-size-fits-all solution. The Commission is setting out an approach based on three pillars: structural reforms to put Europe on a new growth path; fiscal responsibility to restore the soundness of public finances and cement financial stability; and investment to kick-start growth and sustain it over time. The Investment Plan for Europe is at the heart of this strategy.

Ministers approved yesterday the regulation for the European Investment Plan Fund.The plan is intended to spur growth in Europe through an elaborate scheme involving a total of €21 billion from the European Investment Bank and funds from the EU´s budget, which is supposed to unlock billions of private investors’ money.

As agreed by the European Council, the Fund should be up and running as quickly as possible to ensure that financing starts flowing to projects this summer. The plan will run for four years but will be reviewed after three years to see if it is working.

A steering board made up by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank will oversee the fund, while an eight-member investment committee will choose the projects.

The list submitted in December, which EU officials stress is not definitive, includes plans for housing regeneration in the Netherlands, a new port in Ireland, and a 4.5 billion euro fast rail connection between Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Other ideas involve refuelling stations for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Germany, expanding broadband networks in Spain, and making public buildings in France more energy-efficient.

Of interest