Today, the United Kingdom announced that it will contribute £6 billion (about €8.5 billion) to projects benefiting from finance by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which is at the heart of the €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe. The co-financing pledge – the biggest yet by any country – will come from various programmes and bodies that are focussed on promoting economic growth. Britain is the ninth country to contribute to the Plan after Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria, even before the EFSI becomes operational.
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "I am delighted that the UK announced £6 billion – nearly €8.5 billion – of co-financing for the European Fund for Strategic Investments projects. This is the biggest announcement yet and will have a big impact on SMEs and infrastructure in the UK. The Investment Plan for Europe is moving into high gear."
On 28 May, just four and a half months after the Commission adopted the legislative proposal on 13 January, EU legislators reached a political agreement on the Regulation for European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Member States unanimously endorsed it on 10 March and the European Parliament voted in committee on 20 April. Finance Ministers welcomed the agreement on the Regulation at the ECOFIN Council on 19 June, and the European Parliament voted through the Regulation at their plenary session on 24 June, allowing the EFSI to be operational by September as planned.
In line with the European Council conclusions of December 2014, which invited the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group to "start activities by using its own funds as of January 2015", the EIB has already announced several projects to be pre-financed in the context of the Investment Plan for Europe, in which it is the Commission's strategic partner.
National Promotional Banks have a crucial role to play in getting Europe investing again. They have the expertise to carry out the Investment Plan, and they often ensure the most efficient use of public resources. In February, Germany announced that it would contribute €8 billion to the Investment Plan through KfW. Also in February, Spain announced a €1.5 billion contribution through Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO). In March, France announced a €8 billion pledge through Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) and Bpifrance (BPI) and Italy announced it will contribute €8 billion via Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP). In April Luxembourg announced that it will contribute €80 million via Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI), and Poland announced that it will contribute €8bn via Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK). In June, Slovakia announced a contribution of €400 million through its National Promotional Banks Slovenský Investičný Holding and Slovenská Záručná a Rozvojová Banka. Also in June, Bulgaria announced it would contribute €100 million through the Bulgarian Development Bank.
The economic crisis brought about a sharp reduction of investment across Europe. That is why collective and coordinated efforts at European level are needed to reverse this downward trend and put Europe on the path of economic recovery. Adequate levels of resources are available and need to be mobilised across the EU in support of investment. There is no single, simple answer, no growth button that can be pushed, and no one-size-fits-all solution. The Commission is setting out an approach based on three pillars: structural reforms to put Europe on a new growth path; fiscal responsibility to restore the soundness of public finances and cement financial stability; and investment to kick-start growth and sustain it over time. The Investment Plan for Europe is at the heart of this strategy.