October 19, 2017 / 11:43 AM / a year ago

EU investment plan on track, seeks to benefit poorer countries

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A European Union flagship investment scheme is well on track to attract 315 billion euros by the middle of next year and seeks also to benefit poorer members of the 28-nation bloc, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said.

European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen holds a news conference on the Industrial policy package in Brussels, Belgium September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The investment plan, launched in the middle of 2015, aims to attract private funds to finance investments, the riskier parts of which are covered by the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) using 21 billion euros of public money.

The plan has already triggered 241 billion euros in investments, or three-quarters of the target, Katainen said, creating some 300,000 jobs. The scheme will be extended until 2020 and is to generate some 500 billion in investment.

A report last October said nearly all the money spent by then had gone to the 15 richest countries in the bloc - including Germany, France, Italy and Spain - leaving the other 13 poorer ones out in the cold.

But Katainen said the EFSI and the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is part of the scheme, have made efforts to make the distribution more balanced.

When measured by total investment set to be triggered by the EFSI as a proportion of a country’s GDP, the biggest beneficiaries of the plan now included many of the poorer regions of the EU.

The top 10 beneficiaries of the program measured in this way were Estonia, Bulgaria, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, and Poland, Katainen said.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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