"The European Investment Fund must become a tool to boost growth and create jobs," say S&Ds
The political groups in the European Parliament today reached a compromise on the design of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), the new financial tool at the heart of the €315 billion Juncker Investment Plan.
Today's vote opens the way for negotiations with the EU council of ministers and the European Commission.
Udo Bullmann, head of the SPD delegation and one of the two leading European Parliament negotiators said after the vote:
"This investment plan is in a way the Socialists and Democrats' baby.
"In recent years, we have been campaigning to change Europe's direction from austerity to investment. While growth remains sluggish in Europe, the Commission Investment Plan is a first step in the right direction. Today's compromise has the S&D's stamp on it.
"For us, the EFSI must provide added value, both economically and socially. It does not make sense to invest in projects that would be financed anyway. For the European Investment Bank (EIB), as a key partner, this new plan can't be business as usual. We need to take a different approach than has been taken in the past and target funds at projects with higher added value in areas like broadband and energy efficiency. That is why we are calling for investment guidelines to identify the best projects.'
Eider Gardiazabal, S&D Group negotiator on budgetary issues added:
"We succeeded in securing a cross party majority against the Commission's proposal to take money away from Horizon 2020 (EU programme for research and innovation) and the Connecting Europe Facility (EU programme for infrastructure and digital agenda) to finance the €8 billion risk Guarantee Fund.
"We fully back the EU guarantee of €16 billion granted to the EIB, to allow them to conduct riskier operations under the EFSI. But the financing of the €8 billion for the Guarantee Fund, which is a liquidity cushion for the EIB in case of failure of an EFSI operation, cannot be financed at the expense of existing programmes which represent important investments for Europe's future.
"The financing of the Guarantee Fund must not be decided now, it can be built up year by year in the framework of the budgetary procedure, taking due account of all means of flexibility available under the current Multiannual Financial Framework."
Kathleen van Brempt, S&D Group vice-president responsible for sustainable development and the negotiator for the Parliament’s industry, research and energy committee concluded:
"We do not need AAA projects. We need projects that have an impact locally, which can help small and medium size companies to invest. Most of all, we need projects that can create good quality jobs.
"I am very pleased that we managed to safeguard Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility. It would have made no sense to launch the European Fund for Strategic Investment at the expense of these crucial programmes.
"We are convinced that we need to encourage projects which promote the transition to a sustainable economy and help Europe fulfil its commitments in the fight against climate change."