The European Union has unveiled an investment plan worth hundreds of billions of euros intended to strengthen the bloc’s tepid economic recovery. CCTV America’s Jack Barton reported this story from Brussels.
The European Commission’s new President Jean-Claude Juncker arrived on the job last month promising to kick-start the EU economy. On Wednesday, he unveiled plans to achieve this with an investment program worth 315 billion Euros, which is almost $400 billion.
“We need to send a message to the people of Europe and to the rest of the world that Europe is back in business,” Juncker said.
Only 16 billion euros, or $20 billion, will come from the EU’s own budget, with five billion, or $6.3 billion, more coming from the European Investment Bank.
The Commission President hopes the rest will come from the private sector, but critics said that’s unlikely in the current economic climate.
The head of Europe’s Trade Union Confederation described the Commission’s plan as seeking economic recovery through a financial miracle.
The European parliament’s largest factions cautiously welcome the plan though many lawmakers argued it would achieve little on its own.
“Let’s be honest, what is the aim to fund investment projects in a number of countries if these countries don’t make efforts towards structural reforms?” said Guy Verhofstadt, the head of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Junker said critics are underestimating the package.
“It does have substance and you don’t want to overestimate this project alone either, because this package will not fundamentally change things in Europe if this program does not go hand in hand with other support,” said Juncker.
If the plan works, the commission believes it could create up to 1.3 million jobs through infrastructure investment projects ranging from transportion and energy to education and research.