I am pleased to say that today that S&D Group (of which the Labour Party form an integral part) have been successful in working the European Commission to come up with a compromise over how to create, manage and spend the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) also known as the Juncker Plan. This fund is a new new financial tool of the €315 billion investment plan proposed by the European Commission.
I’d expressed my concerns about how exactly the fund would boost growth and where the money would come from – however after a lot of negotiations between my colleagues and the European Commission – I think we have come up with a sold plan. A plan that is now on track and will help to boost growth and jobs across Europe.
The aim of the fund will be to modernise the European economy instead of investing in the past. It will promote sustainable projects that benefit citizens and that can get small and medium size enterprises on board. There are over 400,000 SMEs in the West Midlands and supporting them is my number one priority – so any agreement had to create a better deal for small businesses.
A big concern was where the €8 billion guarantee fund (which supports the European Investment Bank in case something goes wrong) would come from. President Juncker was looking to make quite substantive sums from crucial investment funds like Horizon 2020 (which supports cutting edge scientific research here in the UK and across Europe) and the the Connecting Europe Facility (another fund which supports infrastructure and the digital agenda). Whilst there has been some money taken from these funds, I am pleased to say it is much less than they had originally wanted.
I appreciate the need to have an ambitious plan to boost economies across Europe – but we need to focus on the quality of the investments – not the quantity. We shouldn’t cut off our nose to spite our face as the saying goes – if we are going to take money from other funds – let’s make sure it’s worth it and doesn’t waste tax payer money or cut critical programmes.
I am happy to say that through tough negotiations we have ensured this doesn’t happen. We now have a plan that will not just boost our economy and create jobs but ensure sustainable growth in a sustainable economy – with more money being invested into green businesses and renewable energy.
I am proud to say I am part of the party that has made this plan possible.