EFSI urged to work better for weaker Member States
The fund triggered more than €194bn in investment, helping 400,000 SMEs in Europe
Maria Koleva, Brussels
17 June, 2017
Photo © European Parliament
The activities of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) are overly concentrated on the most highly developed regions of the EU and the funding is too often granted to projects that could be realised without its support, said MEPs in a resolution that assesses how EFSI has been applied. It was adopted on 15 June at the plenary in Strasbourg by 477 votes in favour, 105 votes against and 35 abstentions. EFSI was launched under the Juncker Plan in July 2015, by the Commission and the EIB Group with the aim to prop up the closing of the existing investment gap in the EU by mobilising more private investments in the real economy. The fund triggered more than €194bn in investment and made the business easier for 400,000 small and medium-sized companies.
The report prepared by S&D Group vice president German MEP Udo Bullmann and Portuguese EPP MEP Jose Manuel Fernandes, shows the importance of this useful tool for boosting the volume of investments in Europe, but urges that EFSI should work better for weaker EU regions, keep more geographical balance and concentrate its efforts on riskier future-oriented investments. MEPs asked EFSI to be focused on investments that would not otherwise be supported, including small-scale and cross-border projects.
For lawmakers, it is unacceptable that 91% of EFSI funding went to the Member States in the group of EU-15, where the investment gap is not so big. MEPs insisted for ceilings at 30% for each sector as they found out that the sectoral distribution is uneven with energy projects share of 46% of total funding. At the same time initiatives related to social infrastructure, health and education received only 4% of funds. They also opined that the concept of additionality should be clearly defined.
According to the co-rapporteur Udo Bullmann, EFSI must be upgraded and improved and the European Parliament has already opened negotiations with the European Council on the extension and prolongation of the fund. I will make sure that our concerns are addressed in these negotiations, Bullmann said noting that Member States can be sure that there will be no final agreement that does not reflect the proposals for improving EFSI to which a large number of MEPs have given their support with the vote.
EFSI is helping to create jobs and has contributed to growth, but citizens are unaware of this positive effect and it is an EU success that deserves to continue and gain greater visibility, commented co-rapporteur Jose Manuel Fernandes. He also opined that the fund has delivered the expected results and has largely exceeded expectations as regards SME investments.
Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, S&D spokesperson for the EU budget committee, pointed out that EFSI has already helped to boost growth in the economies of EU countries but however “we need to ensure that it works as efficiently as possible and is helping the regions where it is needed the most.” We now need to secure a more robust investment plan to relaunch the European economy, she added.