HORSENS, Denmark, June 11 European Union member states signalled support on Monday for a proposal to increase the capital of the European Investment Bank (EIB) by 10 billion euros ($12.47 billion) as part of efforts to spur economic growth, officials said.
The European Commission proposal to raise the bank's paid-in capital is one of several schemes meant to boost growth in the crisis-hit bloc and is seen potentially enabling the bank to increase lending by 60 billion euros.
The proposed capital boost is linked to plans for the EU to back project bonds, debt issued by managers of infrastructure projects to help finance cross-border transport, communications and energy projects.
"My feeling was that nobody was opposing this proposal so it is becoming part and parcel of the set of proposals that will come to the Council," European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic told a news conference after an informal meeting of EU European affairs ministers in Denmark.
Sefcovic, Commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration, said he hoped that absence of opposition would also translate into clear support for it in the Council, the summit meeting of EU leaders.
"We see that through the EIB operations and the usage of project bonds, which would also help to raise money on the private markets, we can increase this initial investment manifold," he said.
"We would like to use this initial investment to target EU financing on areas where we can see a major return in growth and job creation," he said, mentioning infrastructure in data communications, transport and energy as examples of such areas.
Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, the EU's budget chief, said that the capital boost for the EIB was important also to preserve the bank's triple-A status.
The proposal is expected to be part of a growth package that Denmark, which holds the EU's rotating presidency till the end of June, is to present with Council President Herman Van Rompuy to a June 28-29 summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
"We now have a very strong mandate from all 27 member states to complete this work," Danish Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen told the news conference, referring to the growth package overall.
Wammen said that the package would include reforms of the single market, including reaching agreement on a pan-European patent, support for free-trade agreements and a deal on the energy efficiency directive.
The plans also include a retargeting of the EU's budget for 2014-2020 to put more emphasis on growth and job creation.
"This is crunch time for Europe," Wammen said.
($1 = 0.8021 euros) (Reporting by John Acher; editing by Ron Askew)