The European Growth Initiative final report, prepared in close co-operation with the EIB, has been set out by the European Commission. The report includes a list of 56 projects that are ready to start immediately, to kick-start investment in networks and knowledge across the European Union. All selected projects have a strong cross-border impact and are expected to yield positive results in terms of growth, jobs and protection of the environment.
The Quick-start programme indicates the projects that satisfy criteria (see below) and on which work should be underway within the next three years at the latest. The overall level of investment cost from now up to 2010 amounts to some EUR 38 billion in key cross-border sections of the TENs-transport network, EUR 10 billion in key TEN-energy projects and around EUR 14 billion for projects linked to highspeed communications networks and to research, development and innovation. This indicates an annual investment of around €10 billion per annum to be covered by public and private sources.
The Commission's Final Report highlights three important issues:
- the importance of getting rid of administrative and regulatory barriers which hold back investment;
- how projects can be financed through a combination of EU and national funding, EIB support and private investment;
- the Quick-start Programme must meet four criteria: (1) maturity, (being able to start within the next three years), (2) the cross-border dimension, (3) their impact on growth and innovation, and (4) their positive environmental effects.
EIB can finance TENs projects up to max. of 50% of investment costs. It is already the leading source of bank finance for these large-scale European networks. It not only commands the financial strength to mobilise on fine terms the huge sums necessary to construct them, but can also offer maturities (30 years and longer) tailored to the scale of the projects concerned and act as a catalyst for other sources of finance. Where appropriate, the Bank's value added can also take the form of the provision of structured finance as an adjunct to commercial bank and capital market funding. Since 1993, it has approved loans totalling nearly EUR 100 billion, for which contracts worth EUR 75 billion have so far been signed. Following various Community initiatives which identified priority Trans-European Networks within the Union, and more recently in the Accession Countries, the Bank has scaled up its TENs lending and approved an increase in its financing. Over the last six years it has lent EUR 45 billion for such investments. The target for 2004-2010 is EUR 50 billion.
-> See also the European Commission press release.