European Union finance ministers are expected to approve on 10 March rules for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), an instrument which is at the heart of the EU’s €315 billion investment plan.
Latvia, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers, wants finance ministers to agree the rules for the fund to clear the way for negotiations with the European Parliament in April and for the package to be signed off by June.
The EFSI will allocate funds from the €315bn investment plan to projects designed to boost growth. They are expected to be mainly in the areas of infrastructure, especially energy, education and information technology. The plan’s funding is a mixture of public and private sector money, including funds from existing EU programmes.
The European Parliament’s budgets and economic and monetary affairs committees, which are dealing with the EFSI, are expected to vote to approve a joint report in April so that there can be a vote by the whole Parliament during the Strasbourg plenary in June.
The committees held a hearing on the fund on 2 March at which the two MEPs drafting Parliament’s report said that money from the fund should be targeted at higher-risk investments such as green technologies. The fund should also complement existing EU policies.
Provided the rules for the EFSI are agreed in June, the first investment decisions could be made in the autumn. The investment plan is one of the flagship projects of the European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker.
The fund needs to receive contributions from national governments to reach the €315bn total. It received a major boost when Spain said that it was prepared to invest €1.5bn. Without these contributions, the fund would have only €16bn from the EU budget and a €6bn contribution from the European Investment Bank.
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