Wednesday

18th Oct 2017

Final talks on Juncker plan extension

  • The investment is to be extended until 2020 with an increased capacity, from €315 billion to €500 billion. (Photo: European Commission)

The European Parliament, member states and the European Commission on Wednesday (31 May) started the final negotiations on the future of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), also called the Juncker investment plan.

The goal is to extend the scheme until 2020, with an increased capacity – from €315 billion to €500 billion.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The fund, which is managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), has capital of €21 billion. The money is used for viable but risky projects, in order to help raise private capital up to the €315 billion capacity. The extension will bring this capital amount up to €33.5 billion.

The Juncker plan, initially launched in 2015, has already approved some €37 billion in real projects, which are expected to trigger close to €200 billion in further private investment.

That means that 62 percent of the objective have been met. "This is a good news, it means the EFSI is on track," the fund's managing director, Wilhelm Molterer, told EUobserver.

The extension until 2020 "should be done quickly," insisted Molterer, who wants to give "a clear signal of stability" to businesses that wish to submit projects.

The critics

As member states and the EU parliament agree on the fund's capacity and lifetime, discussions will focus on its functioning – for instance, how projects are chosen, how information about them is disclosed, and how they are being distributed between countries and regions.

The new EFSI rules could put more emphasis on eastern EU member states – which benefited less from the fund – and on projects dedicated to fight climate change. This follows critiques that have been repeatedly voiced by NGOs last year.

The EU commission also proposed to enhance the so-called additionality of EFSI-supported projects. EFSI should not replace already existing funds, but instead it is meant to support projects that cannot find any sources of financing on the market.

However, a study from the Bruegel think tank last year showed that EFSI-supported projects have the same risk profile as other EIB projects. The European court of Auditors also raised doubts over the additionality of the supported projects.

EU parliament and member states also agree that EFSI has to be more transparent. The fund will be required to publish the criteria it relies on to assess which projects should be supported or not.

But the parliament also asked to receive, under "strict confidentiality requirements", "commercially sensitive decisions" regarding all projects applying for support. This would allow MEPs to check carefully whether the principle of additionality is met.

This provision could be a problem, as the EIB is very careful regarding commercially sensitive data. "Everybody should be extremely careful with this sensitive information," insisted Molterer.

The future

Discussions on the Juncker plan's extension raise the question of whether it will be enough to re-start investment on a continent that is still recovering from the financial crisis.

"The Juncker plan has been presented has the answer against the crisis, but that was misleading – it couldn't restart investment on its own," Eulalia Rubio, senior research fellow at the Jacques Delors Institute, told EUobserver.

"The real obstacle to investment is the fact that the economy is weak," she said.

In its latest economic forecasts, published early May, the commission noted that "investment growth seems to have slightly strengthened through the end of 2016, but is not expected to rise markedly" in the coming months.

In the talks that started on Wednesday, the parliament has also asked for the commission to be tasked with proposing a "comprehensive investment scheme", in order to ensure that EU support for investment doesn't stop after 2020.

The wording is vague and leaves options other than a new extension of EFSI. "It does not have to be an EFSI 3.0, neither a similar mechanism," said one parliament source. "But there is a need to have something to address that."

"I think everyone agrees that there is a need for something in the longer-term," French MEP Dominique Riquet told Euobserver.

Riquet, who chairs the long-term investment and reindustrialisation intergroup, an informal group of MEPs, noted however that "the obligation to bring forward such a plan, might be more problematic" to member states.

"EFSI is an instrument that would work for the post-2020 period," EFSI's chief, Molterer, argued.

Any future scheme, however, would require a commitment for the post-2020 EU budget, which is financed by member states.

EU ministers approve 'Juncker plan' extension

The agreement to prolong the EU investment plan until 2020 to raise up to €500 billion will have to be confirmed by the parliament amid questions about its impact and functionning.

Analysis

Doubts hang over EU investment plan's future

Questions of value for money and a lack of transparency complicate adding almost €200 billion more and extending the Juncker investment plan to 2020.

Investigation

EU bank accused of muzzling watchdog

An ongoing review of the the European Investment Bank's "complaints mechanism" could make the oversight branch less independent and less effective.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish Court declares Catalan referendum law void
  2. EU to keep 'Dieselgate' letter secret
  3. No deal yet on Mediterranean alliance for EU agencies
  4. EU Commission condemns Maltese journalist's murder
  5. Poland denies wrongdoing over forest logging
  6. Risk to asylum kids in EU increasing, says charity
  7. Schroeder warns of Turkey and Russia drifting towards China
  8. EU parliament wants equal pay for posted workers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks
  2. Nepal troops arrive in Libya to guard UN refugee agency
  3. Is Banking Authority HQ the Brexit 'booby prize'?
  4. EU-Russia trade bouncing back - despite sanctions
  5. No sign of Brexit speed-up after May-Juncker dinner
  6. EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  7. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  8. Malta in shock after car bomb kills crusading journalist

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  2. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  3. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  4. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  8. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  9. CESIJoin CESI@Noon on October 18 and Debate On: 'European Defence Union: What Next?'
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups
  11. ILGA EuropeInternational Attention Must Focus on LGBTI People in Azerbaijan After Police Raids
  12. European Jewish CongressStrong Results of Far Right AfD Party a Great Concern for Germans and European Jews