Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

EP gives final approval to investment fund

  • The EIB has earmarked R&D among first projects (Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

The European Parliament gave overwhelming approval to the creation of a European investment fund in a plenary vote on Wednesday evening (24 June).

It passed by 464 votes, against 131, with 19 abstentions.

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 is the European Commission's flagship programme to create jobs and get the European economy back on the road.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker proposed it soon after he took office in November last year.

Six months later, MEPs and national governments negotiators reached a compromise on the details of the instrument, paving the way for Wednesday’s final approval.

The fund, which is hoped to trigger €315 billion in investments, is based on a €16 billion guarantee from the EU, and €5 billion from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

One sticking point was where the guarantee money would come from.

The commission proposed taking €6 billion from two existing EU funds: Horizon 2020 (for research & development), and Connecting Europe Facility (for infrastructure).

MEPs were against this idea, but only managed to lower the contribution from those two funds by €1 billion.

Centre-left Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt defended the compromise as an “honourable” one, but said it's “very painful” that the investment fund will still take €5 billion out of the two existing projects.

“You must bear in mind that next year and future years, we are going to drive a very hard bargain, because we want that money back”, she added.

Budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said the fund had to be set up in a “very tight budget environment” and needs “very tough trade-offs”.

Finnish Liberal MEP Nils Torvalds said that while the commission and the parliament “share the same values”, this was not true for the EU Council, the body representing member states.

“Georgieva said she'll turn every stone to find money. As soon as she finds something, the greedy hand of the council will try to get that money. … The very first problem we had with the process was that there was no new money, no way of getting the member states out of their corner”, noted Torvalds.

Jobs commissioner Jyrki Katainen, who has been touring the EU the past months to sell the fund idea, also praised the speed between the dates of proposal and adoption.

“I would like to spread the same spirit of 'delivering fast' to [other] areas," he said, referring to plans for a digital single market and an energy union.

Belgium's Van Brempt isn't the only MEP with gripes against the Juncker fund.

German far-left MEP Fabio De Masi called it a “placebo” for “sick man Europe”.

Italian MEP Marco Zanni, of the eurosceptic Five Star Movement, said the fund “is socialising the losses and privatising the profits”.

For its part, the EIB has already earmarked money for four projects: in the healthcare R&D sector in Spain; for an airport in Croatia; for 14 healthcare centres in Ireland; and for a steel pipe company in Italy.

Katainen previously said that, if things go well, the fund should be “up and running” in autumn.

Juncker fund gets political go-ahead

The EU plan for a €315bn fund to create jobs took final shape on Thursday, as negotiators agreed how it should operate and how to choose investment projects.

Juncker fund: €50bn mobilised so far

The flagship EU investment fund has mobilised so far €50 billion in investment, says the president of the European Investment Bank.

EU bleeding untold billions to fraud

Over €6bn of EU taxpayers' money was stolen by criminals in recent years and over €130m is still being lost each year, EU auditors said.

ECB takes over ailing Italian bank

Decades of mismanagement appear to have caught up with Italy's Carige bank as the European Central Bank takes control in a move to stave off another banking crisis.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  2. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  3. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  4. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  5. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  6. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  7. German economy hit by global economic turbulence
  8. MEPs narrowly call for end to 'tampon tax'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us