Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has presented his €315bn growth and investment plan to parliament
Upon his appointment as commission president, Juncker had promised to have an investment package designed to stimulate the European economy ready by the end of the year. Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg, he said "Christmas has come early - I am here to deliver on my promise". The Luxembourgish official described his plan as "ambitious yet realistic", adding, "Europe needs a kickstart and today the commission is applying the jump cables". He stressed that "investing in Europe means much more than figures […], it's mainly about people". Juncker said "we should not forget the sacrifices that many in Europe have made over the past six years" and announced that "Europe is back in business".
The commission president highlighted that his new investment package was designed as a support mechanism in the European recovery process, as "no tree can grow on soil and air alone - the investment plan we are presenting today is the watering can".
Juncker underlined that "public expenditure should be used for what it is best at doing - funding our schools and welfare systems, not servicing our debt".
He explained that "the money we are putting forward today comes on top of what already exists", but warned that "money will not fall from the sky, we don't have a money printing machine".
Promising not to "betray the rules of the growth and stability pact", he outlined plans for a "European fund for strategic investments, guaranteed from money from the European budget and the European investment bank" expected to raise €315bn over the next three years.
The European investment bank (EIB) will contribute €5bn and the European budget will raise €16bn, with intentions for this amount to be multiplied 15-fold in capital. This way, very little public money will be spent on the plan.
Juncker said the investment package will "promote investment in European projects", which will be selected by "specialists who have the necessary experience" and who will make up an "investment committee".
The commission president called on member states to "make their contributions to the fund in order to boost its efficiency", highlighting, "member states are duty bound to do what they can to stimulate growth".
He also said that when assessing member states' budgets, the commission "will not calculate any contributions made to that fund when looking at compliance with the stability and growth criteria".
He assured his audience "the European social model will persevere - there will be no turning back".
Werner Hoyer, president of the European investment bank, confirmed plans for the institution to contribute €5bn to the fund but promised "this new engagement will not impact EIB engagement outside the EU".
According to the German official, it is imperative for Europe to work on "the identification of the investment gap and the identification of the reasons" behind this gap.
Patrick O'Flynn, accused Juncker of "trying to implement a botched solution", describing the euro as "a lemon" and the investment package as "just another EU turkey", furthemore "throwing good money after bad" while the main problem is the Euro as a single currency which prevents southern EU states from allowing national currencies to depreciate and thus create more favourable conditions for investment.