The EESC welcomes the Investment Plan for Europe and appreciates the change of tone away from austerity and fiscal consolidation.
The Investment Plan is a step into the right direction but it does face a number of serious questions about its size, about the high degree of leverage expected, about the potential flow of investment projects, about the marketing strategy for attracting private capital, about the involvement of SMEs and about the Plan’s timescale.
There is uncertainty about whether a pipeline of projects can be developed that offer returns that attract institutional investors. The EESC strongly recommends involving the social partners and organised civil society in the project identification process at national level.
Much greater attention must be paid to establish a conducive and predictable investment environment.
The Plan proposes that contributions to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) from Member States will not be included in budget deficit calculations and this is to be welcomed, but the Commission should explain why ongoing strategic public infrastructure expenditures are not treated in the same way.
Strategic public investment such as that envisaged in the Plan which underpins present and future economic development should be incentivised by a more benign European fiscal framework. The EESC invites the Commission to open a discussion on a properly formulated fiscal rule for Europe in full recognition of its many definitional difficulties and in the setting of appropriate conditionalities.
The EESC calls on the Commission to take into consideration the ILO recommendations on attracting viable projects from the regions with the highest unemployment rates, and recommends that the macro-regional strategies are taken into consideration when identifying and assessing potential projects.