The European Parliament voted today in plenary to adopt the rules on a Guarantee Fund that is a cornerstone of the European Commission’s investment plan (1). Although the finances are shaky and insufficient, the Greens/EFA group welcomes this first step towards investment rather than austerity. Greens also welcome the fact that the European Parliament’s unequivocal call for the Plan to favour projects that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable and target quality jobs is reflected in the rules. Commenting on this, Greens/EFA MEP Bas Eickhout, lead negotiator for the Greens/EFA group on this report, said:
“The European Parliament has significantly improved the European Commission’s proposal. EU governments and the European Commission had been happy to accept any kind of investment but will now have to abide by a substantially better set of criteria for project selection that we hope will prioritise projects with long-term benefits for citizens, the economy and the environment. We will closely watch the Commission's design of a project scoreboard, fought for by the Greens, to ensure that investment is steered towards those regions and sectors of Europe where it is most needed.
However, much more public funding is still urgently needed for a transformative investment plan, as called for by the Greens (2). Without it, the intended economic revival cannot happen. Simply creaming off 5% of the money already earmarked for the research funding programme Horizon 2020 and rebranding it "investment plan" money is politically irresponsible. All it means is shifting funds around between different pots of funding. This is highly unlikely to bring any added value.”
Claude Turmes, Greens/EFA MEP and member of the Industry, research and energy committee, stated:
“Thanks mainly to pressure from Greens/EFA MEPs, the Juncker Plan clearly prioritises projects supporting development of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Funding to coal and nuclear energy as well as large infrastructure construction projects is also out of the picture! The Greens/EFA Group's call for earmarking funds on energy efficiency projects was however defeated by the centre-right and centre-left groups. However, thanks to the Greens/EFA, the EFSI is no longer a "blank cheque" to the European Investment Bank. Our group will carefully scrutinise the Bank’s work throughout the Fund’s implementation and hold the Bank and Commission accountable for their lending track record.”
(1) With a starting budget of €21bn in public funds and guarantees the “European Fund for Strategic Investments” (EFSI) should attract around a further €315bn of EU investment. To this end, the Fund guarantees a contribution to projects, with private companies or public authorities paying the remaining costs.
(2) The Greens/EFA group has outlined an alternative investment plan, which you can find at: tinyurl.com/GreenInvestmentPlan-pdf