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EU Unveils GBP250bn Investment Plan for Infrastructure and Broadband

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 (2:06 pm) - Score 1,246
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The European Commission has today announced a new £250 billion (€315bn) plan to improve its infrastructure, which is designed to make the continent more attractive for investment, remove regulatory bottlenecks and “get Europe growing again” by funding improvements in broadband networks, transport, education, research and innovation.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) will be guaranteed with public money, although most of this looks intended to come from the private sector (only a small slice will actually come from the EU budget itself – see below), and aims to mobilise at least €315bn of additional investment over the next three years (2015 – 2017).

The primary focus of this money will apparently be on broadband Internet access and energy networks, with the other areas following as secondary priorities.

eu fund

It’s interesting to note that the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) gets a mention in the small print above, not least because the CEF originally set aside around €9.2bn for broadband improvements before that was wiped out last year by major budget cuts pushed by the United Kingdom and others (here). Now, almost two years later, we have a new fund proposing to do something similar to what the broadband part of the CEF originally proposed.

Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President, said:

If Europe invests more, Europe will be more prosperous and create more jobs – it’s as simple as that. The Investment Plan we are putting forward today in close partnership with the European Investment Bank is an ambitious and new way of boosting investment without creating new debt. Now is the time to invest in our future, in key strategic areas for Europe, such as energy, transport, broadband, education, research and innovation.

I am now counting on the European Parliament and on Member States to pitch in and do their part to get the new European Fund for Strategic Investments up and running as soon as possible. Europe needs a kick-start and today we are supplying the jump cables.”

Apparently the fund is keen to foster projects that “can start at latest within the next three years” (i.e. a reasonable expectation for capital expenditure in the 2015-17 period), although after looking through most of the documentation we note that the mentions of “broadband” or any useful specifics related to that are somewhat absent.

The best we could find was a very general commitment by Juncker for “far-reaching and faster broadband and smarter data centres across Europe” (here). Clearly there’s a lot of work left to be done before this plan is able to explain itself in detail.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Steve Jones

    Is this going to be any more than repackaging what member states were already going to do? One interesting thing will be to what extent the ECB enables this, especially for many of the weaker EU economies, by tricks involving expanding the money supply or suppressing borrowing rates through buying up government bonds.

    Of course, any ECB action is only indirectly applicable to the UK economy, save that anything that stimulates the Eurozone economies will, presumably, be reflected in the health of ours.

    nb. one concern is about the EU’s propensity for white elephant infrastructure. There are quite a lot of examples of bridges (and motorways) to nowhere. You have to hope this stuff does all stimulate the relevant economies.

  2. Avatar david

    BT cowboys infrastructure= ( SHAMBLES )

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