Juncker Investment Plan branded unworkable and unfair in midterm review by GUE/NGL MEPs

GUE/NGL MEPs led the charge in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday by labelling the European Commission’s €315 billion Investment Plan for the EU as unfair and biased in favour of richer member states during their reaction to the midterm review.

The so-called Juncker plan aims to reenergise stagnant growth and unemployment across Europe by targeting SMEs, and the plenary session saw MEPs debate on whether to extend the plan beyond the original three years and to devote more resources into SMEs.

Opening the debate, GUE/NGL group shadow for the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on the midterm review, Miguel Viegas felt vindicated by his criticism of the Investment Plan when they were first unveiled:

“Recent data confirms what we had known all along – that the ambitions were unrealistic and our criticisms justified.”

“There was no geographic coverage or criteria as to where these investments would go; just large companies dominating the private sector. Private management is being brought in over public services at the cost of development and focussing on profits for large multinationals over everything,” said the Portuguese MEP.

“What we are seeing is that much of the money went to the wealthier and more developed regions of Europe. We are seeing fictitious results being broadcast and this public programme of investment trampled upon in so many member states,” he concluded.

Echoing those sentiments, GUE/NGL group’s shadow on the Budgets Committee for the midterm review, Liadh Ní Riada agreed that the Juncker plans are clearly not working:

“A year after the Investment Plan for the Cohesion Fund (CF), we are here listening to a review of the plan. This was the plan the EU had to save itself but it’s obvious that it’s not working.”

“The CF was supposed to provide investment to countries hit hard by austerity measures; the CF was supposed to provide investment in research in green and sustainable industries, social enterprise, SMEs and cooperatives.”

“These are the backbone to any real economy. But they don’t even have basic information about how the FC works. The European Investment Bank loans are falling far short of what had been promised,” concluded the Irish MEP.

Meanwhile, Portuguese MEP and GUE/NGL coordinator on the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee, Marisa Matias, recalled the day when the Investment Plan was presented to the Parliament and what abject failure it has since become:

“When Juncker came to Strasbourg to announce the investment plan, he told us that Christmas had come early. Quite obviously, that was an exaggeration.”

“This investment plan has fallen well short of expectation. It not only came at the expense of public investment but the Commissioner simply wiped out eastern and southern Europe from the map in project investments.”

“The plan hasn't had the miraculous effect that Juncker had hoped for. But since we are still in denial over Father Christmas, I guess it's business as usual for us then”, Matias said.

For Greek MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, he took aim at the ‘self-satisfied’ Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Tapani Katainen, and blamed him for the unbalanced nature of the investments:

“The Juncker plan has to be focussed on creating greater investment throughout Europe but particularly where there is the greatest poverty, the greatest unemployment and the greatest lack of investment.”

“Europe needs more investment in the poorest regions of northern Europe than funding expensive motorways in the wealthiest areas of Germany and the Netherlands”

“We need to adapt this investment, apply it to the poorest regions, support the poorest and the SMEs,” he said.