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
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)