On 26 November 2014 the European Commission announced a € 315 billion Investment Plan to mobilise strategic investments in Europe and stimulate growth of the European economy.
The plan builds on the basis that in Europe there is ample liquidity, but there is a lack of investments and risk-bearing capacity to finance projects. The economy is faced with a crisis of confidence, so the challenge is to re-connect private investment with attractive projects.
According to European Commission estimations, the Investment Plan has the potential to add € 330 to € 410 billion to the EU's GDP and create 1 to 1.3 million new jobs in the coming three years.
The Plan is built on three main strands:
• The creation of a new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)
• The establishment of a credible project pipeline coupled with an assistance programme to channel investments where they are most needed
• An ambitious roadmap to remove regulatory bottlenecks and complete the Internal Market
The Fund will finance strategic projects across the EU in infrastructure (e.g. broadband, energy and transport); education, research and innovation; renewable energy and energy efficiency.
EBC welcomes very much the Investment Plan for Europe. However, although the Plan is intended to target SMEs in particular, they are concerned that they may be cut out of this initiative.
Under the current proposed structure, the projects to be financed under the EFSI would be too big for SMEs, which would not be able to submit projects nor to participate in them. The Plan should therefore finance small-scale projects to give small companies a concrete chance of being involved.
EBC also calls for reserving part of the granted guarantees to energy efficiency investments. 75% of the European building stock is not energy efficient. EFSI could represent an important occasion to renovate the residential housing stock in Europe.
The European Institutions should not miss this opportunity to increase energy security, reduce energy-poverty and green-house gas emissions, while supporting growth and jobs in a sustainable way.