Monday

24th Sep 2018

EU leaders want 'urgent' action on investment fund

  • Tusk managed to wrap up the economics debate in 2.5 hours (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

EU leaders on Thursday (18 December) called for a speedy setting up of a special investment fund, but the European Parliament chief cast doubt that it will be ready by June as planned.

"We call for the urgent establishment of a European investment fund for strategic investments and renew our commitment to intensify structural reforms and to continue efforts to ensure sound public finances," EU council chief Donald Tusk said after chairing the economics part of the leaders' meeting.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The fund, to be hosted in the governments-controlled European Investment Bank, is relying on €21bn in guarantees from the EU budget and the EIB itself, which is supposed to be leveraged fifteen-fold and attract private and public investments to the tune of €315 billion.

The EU commission plans to put forward draft legislation in January and have the European Parliament "fast-track" it so the fund can be set up by June.

But European Parliament chief Martin Schulz in a separate press conference cast doubt that the calendar can be met.

"Fast-track is a very unconcrete term. If we achieved this by June, it would be fine for everybody. The rapporteur is committed to the utmost to accelerate, but in a serious lawmaking process you need time for legislation that is really serious," Schulz said.

He added that it was "unpredictable and not possible" to say if the June deadline could be met noting that it was not just the parliament but also member states that had to move quickly.

"Most of the pending legislation in the EU is not because of the European Parliament, it's because of the council," he added.

According to an EU source briefed on the leaders' talks, there was an attempt to open the discussion on how national contributions to the fund would be calculated - amid north-south divisions on what the "flexibility" of the deficit and debt rules should cover.

"But the discussion didn't go very deep," the source said, noting that the whole round ended in 2.5 hours.

In the final conclusions, leaders "take note" of the indication by the EU commission that national contributions will not trigger the excessive deficit procedure, "necessarily in line with the flexibility that is built into its existing rules."

Schulz said that this would mark a "major change in European policy, for the first time we recognise officially that public investment are not calculated as usual as a spending of money and a first step for more flexibility."

Apart from the investment fund, leaders also agreed on the to-do list for the coming months: energy union, deepening eurozone integration and a step up in the fight against tax avoidance and evasion.

Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia also sought to obtain a one-year extension on unpaid bills from the 2007-2013 EU budget, but all they got was more "assistance" from the EU commission to speed up the absorption of funds in 2015 - the last year they can submit bills for the old multi-annual budget.

Ministers clash over Juncker fund

Germany’s finance minister warned that his government would not make extra contributions to the EU’s planned €300 billion investment vehicle, as ministers clashed on how the programme should be set up.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  2. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  3. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  4. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  5. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  6. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  7. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  8. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us