We met each other back in July 2014 to see what the European Commission – which had just started to prepare for a new five-year mandate – and the European Investment Bank Group could do to counter the economic fallout of the financial crisis. It was clear that business as usual was not an option. No fresh money was available from Member States’ budgets, so we needed a new approach at European level to boost investment, which was still low, even several years after the crisis.
Over a working lunch and one weekend of intense work, we came up with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), colloquially called the Juncker Plan. The innovative idea—and the great challenge—was to take financial instruments to a new level. We would leverage the impact of this public investment thanks to a European Union guarantee and the robustness of the European Investment Bank Group, thus financing the riskier projects that the economy truly needed.
This cross-fertilisation between public and private funds is at the heart of EFSI. It is about doing more with less.
A good news story
The European Fund for Strategic Investments has been one of the good news stories to emerge in a decade of economic uncertainty. It has gone well beyond its highly ambitious target of €500 billion in mobilised investments. The Juncker Plan has made a strong contribution to the 14 million jobs created in the EU between 2015 and 2020.
EFSI has become a success in co-financing projects that otherwise might not have been carried through. It has also charted the path towards new ways of financing. This is not only the case in relatively conventional areas, such as infrastructure, but also in sectors like research and innovation or the contribution to climate change mitigation. This is exactly what makes EFSI so ground-breaking: responding to the needs of the market through continuous financial innovation.
Here to stay
The principle of EFSI is here to stay. It has paved the way for its successor, the InvestEU programme, which is to be deployed under the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework.
Today we are proud and grateful. Proud of how EFSI stimulates much-needed investment across Europe, especially from the private sector. Grateful to all the colleagues in the European Commission and the EIB Group who worked tirelessly to make EFSI a success. Our special thanks go to Wilhelm Molterer, managing director, and Iliyana Tsanova, deputy managing director, for their entrepreneurial spirit and remarkable commitment to securing the greatest benefit for the European economy and European citizens.
In this series, we invite you to discover how EFSI came about and how its lean, efficient governance structure, epitomised by the Investment Committee, helped guide it to success. Through the testimony of the leadership behind EFSI, the unveiling of EFSI’s mechanics and the inspiring stories of Europeans whose jobs were created by EFSI, you will learn how the Juncker Plan continues to make a difference, every day.