MEPs back ringfenc­ing € 5 bln of Juncker Plan for en­ergy ef­fi­ciency

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

By a sin­gle vote, MEPs passed an amend­ment ringfenc­ing up to EUR 5 bln of Juncker Plan money for en­ergy ef­fi­ciency projects.

The un­ex­pected victory means Kath­leen Van Brempt, a Bel­gian So­cial­ist, now has the man­date to ne­go­ti­ate a ded­i­cated ef­fi­ciency fund with the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters.

“It will be a tough battle,” Van Brempt, of the Par­lia­ment’s In­dus­try, Re­search and En­ergy (ITRE) Com­mit­tee told EurAc­tiv.

She is the lead MEP on the ITRE’s re­port on the Euro­pean Fund for Strate­gic In­vest­ments (EFSI), which is the leg­is­la­tion putting the Juncker in­vest­ment pack­age into prac­tice.

The plan fore­sees EUR 16 bln of EU money and EUR 5 bln of Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank funds be­ing used as in­vestor risk guar­an­tees, to un­lock EUR 315 bln public and pri­vate in­vest­ment over the next three years.

It was widely thought that the push to ear­mark funds in the EFSI would fail. The EFSI is the leg­is­la­tion putting the Juncker Plan into prac­tice.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, which op­poses a ringfence, sits in on the talks to help bro­ker a deal. Both Coun­cil and Par­lia­ment must agree an iden­ti­cal bill be­fore it be­comes law.

MEPs also backed amend­ments safe­guard­ing re­search fund­ing for pro­grammes like Hori­zon2020 be­ing used for EFSI-sup­ported projects. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pro­posed a cut of EUR 2.7 bln in Hori­zon2020 from 2015 un­til 2020.

“Our re­searchers, our uni­ver­si­ties around the EU, need this money if we want to keep our fu­ture-ori­ented vi­sion and to en­hance com­pet­i­tive­ness and global strength,” Van Brempt said.

On Mon­day, EIB Vice-Pres­i­dent Jonathan Tay­lor told EurAc­tiv the EIB did not have a for­mal po­si­tion on the idea of ringfenc­ing funds. But, in gen­eral, it was de­sir­able to have as much flex­i­bil­ity as pos­si­ble to avoid the risk of funds be­ing stranded if there were not enough high-qual­ity prod­ucts to in­vest in.

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