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16th Nov 2018

Blame game slows talks on EU investment fund

  • The investment fund is the commission's flagship economic tool (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Negotiators from the European Parliament expressed their “concern” on Monday (11 May) that talks with EU member states about a new investment fund aren’t progressing fast enough.

“We are here to send a very simple and clear message”, Italian centre-left MEP Roberto Gualtieri said at a press conference.

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“The parliament ... is working very hard to assure a quick conclusion of the legislative process. … The parliament is ready to engage in negotiation”, he said.

“We are not seeing the same readiness from the Council [representing the member states] side to enter, to engage in real negotiations”.

The parliament and national governments started talks on 23 April on details of a new EU fund, which is hoped to elicit €315 billion in investments.

The “European fund for strategic investments” was proposed by Jean-Claude Juncker's commission in its first month in office, last November, and is sometimes called the Juncker fund.

It was launched with some fanfare as the way to revitalize the EU's economy.

The commission wants the legislative process to be concluded before the Summer break, and to see the first project receive Juncker funding by September.

But the plan first needs approval from the parliament and the member states.

After three meetings, the national governments’ negotiators are “just getting into dogmatic debates, rather than coming to us with a quick and understandable compromise”, said centre-left German MEP Udo Bullman.

His liberal French collegue Jean Arthuis added that in the first two meetings “we thought that we are looking at an autistic phase. We thought things weren't moving”.

But a spokesperson for the Latvian presidency of the EU noted that the member states had been “ready to negotiate since 10 March”, when they adopted a common negotiating position.

They added that it was the member states who “had to wait” until 20 April for the EU parliament to reach internal agreement.

A source close to the negotiations noted that the commission and member states had proposed 12 compromise texts, “which have not been looked at”.

The contact also added that negotiators from the parliament had cancelled technical meetings.

“You need technical meetings to move forward in the political talks. Cancelling technical meetings is not helpful”, the source said.

EU rotating president Latvia for its part is still confident it can conclude the file on time.

On Tuesday, economics and finance ministers will meet in Brussels and discuss “the state of play” of the talks.

The day after, another round of talks is scheduled, with a fifth and final one scheduled for 18 and 27 May.

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