Public Affairs Networking
11/03 – Green light for investment plan for Europe

Several European media report on yesterday’s EU Finance Ministers unanimous decision to set a common stance on the rules of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Handelsblatt’s Ruth Berschens notes that the European Parliament has yet to vote but is expected to approve.

The Italian government announced that it will contribute €8 billion to projects to be financed under the EFSI. EC President Jean-Claude Juncker called Italy’s decision “excellent”, notes Sole 24 Ore. The Italian daily, among others, quotes Commissioner Pierre Moscovici saying that the EFSI is a response to the “main weakness” of Europe’s economy. Tg1 quotes Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan’s comments, stressing the importance of producing good development projects that make it possible to increase investment opportunities.

Germany and France announce they will provide €8 billion as well, more than five times Spain’s €1.5 billion funding allocation, says Expansion. According to EC Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, quoted by Jornal de Negocios, those contributions are a “good start. Now we have to focus on the legislative work with the EP and hope that, in September or October, [the investment plan for Europe] will be operating.” The EC Vice-President also stated that the contributions “would strengthen the leverage of the EFSI”, as quoted by Luxemburger Wort.

Finland’s HS further reports on Mr Katainen’s point of view, underlining that yesterday’s approval shows that the EU member states are seriously trying to get people back to work and the European economy back on a sustainable growth path. Several media – including HS and Lithuania’s Ziniu Radijas – report on their countries’ satisfaction towards the agreement reached  on the fund’s structure. Naftemporiki says that small EU countries asked in yesterday’s Ecofin meeting equal treatment in the access of funds for small and big EU countries, regardless whether they will contribute with national fund in the project.

Following yesterday’s decision, De Telegraaf reports that Brussels has made important progress on this subject. The Netherlands’ government is currently discussing about spending money on investment projects. It is striking that most countries prefer to use their own national platforms to organise the investments instead of the newly erected European fund EFSI, adds the Dutch newspaper. Along the same lines, Austrian Finance Minister Schelling said it is yet to be decided whether Austria will add money to the fund, reports Ö1.

Meanwhile, Romania’s Bursa reports that Germany, the Netherlands and the UK pointed out that the EFSI must be free of political influence, so that investment projects can be selected based on their quality. Romania, Hungary, Poland, Croatia and the Czech Republic presented a joint statement asking for enhanced technical assistance at regional level. FAZ notes that the European Investment Bank (EIB) considers the goal of Jean-Claude Juncker to generate €315 billion for investments as realistic.

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