New EU investment programme –InvestEU– should enhance social dimension, says the EESC

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According to an opinion adopted on 18 October 2018 by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the InvestEU proposal put forward by the European Commission in the package of regulations on the future multiannual financial framework should contribute to strengthening investment activity in the EU, thus innovation and job creation.

The recent economic crisis significantly reduced the volume of investment activity in the EU, and despite of an improvement of the investment conditions, it has yet to recover. Since public resources are not always available at national or EU level, it is necessary to bring in private capital, with a balance between repayable financial instruments and those based on the subsidy principle. The InvestEU Programme addresses this issue. It is aimed at mobilising public and private investment and better coordinating existing EU financial instruments, making EU funding for investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible. The EESC therefore strongly supports the proposed facility as a contribution to find pathways to a sustained recovery in investment.

Social investment must be a priority

The EESC appreciates the European Commission's efforts to "create an umbrella financial instrument that will result in unified management, enhanced transparency and potential for synergies", as pointed out by the rapporteur of the opinion, Petr Zahradník. He also underlines that "there should be no underestimation or neglect of social investment, which must be as important as investment aimed primarily at development and entrepreneurship". Social infrastructures are a crucial instrument for creating inclusive growth and for strengthening Europe’s social base, accelerating job creation and improving the well-being, health and skills of people. For these reasons, the EESC opinion appreciates the fact that the InvestEU Programme also focuses on social investment and skills.

From a more practical perspective, the EESC stresses "the need to carry out a thorough market test of projects with a view to ensuring the adequacy of specific projects that lend themselves to the use of financial instruments". Given the complexity of the topic, Petr Zahradník also welcomes the possibility of a specific, user-friendly manual aimed at identifying the appropriate project typology and ensuring an adequate implementation in Member States.

Background

The InvestEU Programme, which will run from 2021 until 2027, should mobilise €650 billion in additional investment by 2027, strengthen the role of the financial markets, and lead to a more efficient allocation of EU budget resources. It consists of three parts:

  • The InvestEU Fund, which will mobilise public and private investment through an EU budget guarantee of €38 billion that will back the investment projects of financial partners, which are expected to contribute at least €9.5 billion in risk-bearing capacity. The guarantee will be provisioned at 40%, meaning that €15.2 billion of the EU budget is set aside in case the guarantee is called upon. This Fund will be invested through financial partners, the main one being the EIB Group.
  • The InvestEU Advisory Hub, a partnership between the European Investment Bank Group and the European Commission designed to act as a single access point to various types of advisory and technical assistance services;
  • The InvestEU Portal, a database that connects investors and supported projects.