Belfast Telegraph

Scepticism over plan for EU economy

By Gavin Cordon

New European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has set out his plans to generate hundreds of billions of euros in new investment in a bid to kick-start the EU's flagging economy.

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker said his "grand bargain to put Europe back to work" should "unlock" €315bn euros (£250bn) over the next three years.

Downing Street reacted cautiously to the proposals, emphasising that there would be no overall increase in the EU budget as a result. "The EU budget for the period has been set and it was a reduction," Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said.

"That's what's been agreed by all 28 members and that's what will be stuck to."

Elsewhere, critics complained that there was little new public money and that the scheme relied heavily on generating new investment from the private sector.

Under the plan, a new European fund for strategic investments will be set up, built on a guarantee of €16bn (£12.6bn) from the EU budget, combined with €5bn (£4bn) from the European Investment Bank.

Commission officials said "prudent estimates from historical experience" suggested there would be a multiplier effect, with every euro in additional public funding generating €15 (£11.80) of new investment.

"Europe needs a kick-start and the commission is supplying the jump cables," Mr Juncker said.

Belfast Telegraph