Business Irish

Saturday 18 August 2018

Juncker Plan 'drove €5bn Irish spend'

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Reuters
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Reuters
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

In Ireland, €1.291bn of investment since 2015 under the so-called Juncker Plan triggered an estimated €5.43bn of spending in all including associated private investment, according to the European Commission.

The stimulus plan to help revive economic growth across the European Union has exceeded its original financing target and created "many hundreds of thousands of jobs", the commission said yesterday, despite scepticism from the EU's own auditors.

The plan was launched in 2015, as the EU struggled to recover from the 2008 crash and amid growing popular hostility to austerity politics. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) - dubbed the Juncker Plan - had a target of mobilising €315bn of additional investment in three years, to counter the fall in spending after the 2007-12 financial crises.

The commission said that the plan was now expected to trigger €335bn in new investments across the 28 EU states.

"We surpassed the original €315bn investment target and the European Fund for Strategic Investments is set to create 1.4 million jobs and increase EU GDP by 1.3pc by 2020," Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, citing EU estimates.

However, the European Court of Auditors, which has a mandate to protect the financial interests of EU citizens, has said the plan may have produced no added value, because private investment made through the plan might have been made anyway.

The commission said EFSI has so far "supported" more than 750,000 jobs and increased the bloc's gross domestic product by 0.6pc.

The plan is funded with €21bn of EU guarantees and cash, including €5bn from the European Investment Bank. Two-thirds of the investment triggered came from the private sector, the commission said.

Member states and MEPs last year extended the plan until the end of the decade and expanded its investment target to €500bn.

The commission said the biggest impact has been felt in countries including Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain that were worst hit after the crisis. (Additional reporting Reuters)

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