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Opening remarks by Vice-President Katainen at the press conference of the ECOFIN Council, 9 December 2014

Jyrki Katainen – Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness

ECOFIN Council, Brussels 9 December 2014

Thank you, Pier Carlo. I would like thank you and congratulate you for your excellent Presidency and to your Presidency team for an excellent job. Without your major effort to raise the issue of investment on the agenda we would not be here. Today was a very good day for the Investment Plan. We got very good support from the ECOFIN Council. It was very nice to hear the feedback from the ministers, who said that this whole comprehensive approach is exactly what is needed.

 This is not just a one-off stimulus measure, but a structural plan – or structural reform – at European level. As you have already heard before, the Investment Plan is a triangle. The first angle is the liquidity angle, meaning we will establish a new fund for investments, supporting private investments, crowding in private money for riskier projects – also for SMEs and enterprises who are willing to get more equity in order to grow.

 This is something we have been doing in very close cooperation with the European Investment Bank. So this is the first angle – liquidity. We want to encourage the private sector to invest in riskier areas of the economy, and wider in geographical terms than has been done so far by the private sector in the past few years.

 The lending capacity of the European Fund for Strategic Investment is around €60 billion. Of course, if we can get more capital or guarantees from Member States, the lending capacity will increase.

The second angle is the project pipeline, which is supposed to create a transparent pipeline of viable, reliable and well-structured projects which could help the private sector to pick and choose which projects they are willing to invest in. I have met several investment bankers, institutional investors, who have said that this is exactly what they have been waiting for. They say their duty is to invest in infrastructure. But due to the fact that there are not enough well-structured, reliable projects has been quite difficult from them. Now we want to change this.

 The third angle is the Single Market part. We also got very strong support from ministers that there are deficiencies in the EU Single Market for various reasons. We now have to create a better Single Market in order to boost economic growth and in order to create a new business environment and for small and medium sized companies to create new jobs and products.

 As I have said before, European small and medium sized enterprises that produce digital services or products have an excellent Single Market in the United States. Unfortunately, not in Europe. This is because the Single Market was created before digital content. Energy sector, the capital market, public procurement are all areas in which we need to deepen our Single Market and to give more opportunities for SMEs to grow.

 So Pier Carlo, thank you very much for your cooperation and I wish you all the best in the future.

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