Saturday

8th May 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Czech minister plotted to bury evidence on Russian attack
  2. Putin promotes Russia's 'Kalashnikov-like' vaccine
  3. Coronavirus: Indian variant clusters found across England
  4. UN report encourages EU methane cuts
  5. EU court upholds ban on bee-harming pesticides
  6. Israeli tourists welcomed back by EU
  7. EU duped into funding terrorist group, Israel says
  8. Brussels prepares portfolio of potential Covid-19 treatments

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU ambassadors flock to Red Square for Putin's parade
  2. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  3. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  4. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit
  5. EU preparing to send soldiers to Mozambique
  6. EU now 'open' to vaccine waiver, after Biden U-turn
  7. EU mulls using new 'peace' fund to help Libyan coast guard
  8. Poland 'breaks EU law' over judges, EU court opinion says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us