One year on from its launch, MEPs voiced sharply divided verdicts on the progress of the €315 billion investment plan for Europe, or “Juncker plan”, in Wednesday’s debate with EU Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen. While the EPP and S&D broadly welcomed the work of the “European Fund for Strategic Investment” (EFSI) and the Commission’s announcement that it proposes to extend the lifetime of the plan, MEPs from smaller groups were sceptical about its achievements to date.
Commissioner Katainen said that the Juncker Plan had helped to remove barriers to investment and highlighted its benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Over 185 agreements between the EFSI and banks would provide finance for over 150,000 SMEs, he said, adding that the Commission planned to present proposals later this year to extend the three-year term of the EFSI and to expand investment into third countries.
Statement by Jyrki KATAINEN, Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness
Political group speakers (Click on name to view the statements in full)
Othmar KARAS (EPP, AT) welcomed the proposal to extend the life of the plan and said it was one of the key answers to Europe’s structural problems.
Gianni PITTELLA (S&D, IT) said that while Europe needs an investment plan, it also needs to ensure that it provides for additional funding.
Sander LOONES (ECR, BE) suggested it was too early to assess the success of the EFSI and warned against “rushing in” with plans to extend investment into third countries.
Pavel TELIČKA (ALDE, CZ) said he remained a supporter of the plan but that the type of projects being funded and their quality needed to be reviewed.
Miguel VIEGAS (GUE/NGL, PT) said the plan had allowed large companies to dominate and had focused on richer, more developed areas.
Philippe LAMBERTS (Greens/EFA, BE) called for more money for the plan and said it should focus on countries which lack investment and have most potential for renewable energy projects..
Nigel FARAGE (EFDD, UK) said that the EU’s “grand plans”, such as this, had sown the seeds of its own destiny. Looking ahead to the UK’s 23 June “independence day” referendum, he said he hoped that this would be the last time he spoke in this Parliament..
Steeve BRIOIS (ENF, FR) described the EFSI as a “total failure” saying that it had focused financing on large, urban areas which had aggravated regional disparities