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Mr Werner Hoyer, President of the EIB ©EIB/European union

EIB President Werner Hoyer has told the European Commission’s flagship economic event that the thinking behind the European Fund for Investment was in many ways “revolutionary”. President Hoyer and Jyrki Katainen ,Vice-President of the European Commission both delivered keynote speeches  at the BEF attended by key influencers and figures in European economic policy.

The Investment Plan for Europe and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) was the subject of a high level panel called "Investment as an Engine for Growth" in which President Hoyer was participating, alongside Jyrki Katainen, Roberto Gualtieri MEP, Chair of the European Parliament's Econ Committee, Mario Caldonazzo, Chief Executive officer of Finarvedi Spa and Guntram Wolff, Director of the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel.

Addressing the audience at the event last week in Place Flagey in Brussels, President Hoyer said, “We have lost almost a decade where Europe has been inward looking, busy with necessary reforms, most of them I believe very successful, though painful as reforms can always be. Now we are in the situation where we realise in these almost 10 years, the world around us has moved forward and the competiveness of Europe has suffered. We have to realise that the biggest challenge we have to face is the preservation of our strong position in the global markets.  And that is at stake.”

President Hoyer explained how the Investment Plan , and its European Fund for Strategic Investment had evolved to address not just the investment gap – but "another big gap which is relevant on the global stage, that is the innovation gap."

He said that the key question was why funds and liquidity in Europe were not  reaching  promising projects. “It’s a lack of risk bearing capacity. And so the basic idea was born – to  say what can we do to help promoters and investors to carry additional risk or take on part of the more risk burden from them? And then Mr Juncker and his new Commission came up with the really revolutionary idea - for me this was almost a miracle having been on the European scene for around 30 years - the decision to shift a part of the budgetary resources from subsidies to guarantees, from grants to loans. This is the key development that has taken place."

President Hoyer explained how last month he was able to report to the Bank’s shareholders, EU finance ministers, that already EUR 100 billion of investment had been triggered by EFSI by the end of the May 2016.

See video of panel here : http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I122120