Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

EU banking on investment to boost economic growth

By Fu Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-22 07:41

In the modern European Union office district in picturesque Luxemburg, the 10-floor glass building that houses about 2,000 employees of the European Investment Bank is among the earliest of Europe's energy saving buildings.

As the in-coming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who will take office in November, announced his "new deal" for the EU's reindustrialization, this bank has been tasked with shouldering the mission of boosting investment to give a shot in the arm to the EU economy. Juncker, who is seeking to finalize a 300 billion euro ($385 billion) investment scheme for the EU by February next year, wants the European Investment Bank to boost growth and jobs, which 25 million men and women, especially the young, desperately need.

Working in the clean, bright building since 2012, Werner Hoyer, the bank's president, has been working around clock with his colleagues to prepare detailed investment proposals for Juncker's team.

Hoyer, whose bank has now lent even more than the World Bank, said projects to mitigate climate change, improve energy efficiency and boost renewable energy should be among the investment priorities for the EU.

Coincidently, Hoyer is among a large EU delegation attending the UN climate summit, as world leaders gather in New York this week to inject political will into achieving a globally binding pact in Paris in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Back in 2009 when the international community was negotiating a post-Kyoto protocol climate pact in Copenhagen, the EU found its position in the global talks on climate change had been weakened, despite the bloc being widely recognized as a green leader as it is seeking to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent from the 1990 level and save energy by 20 percent by 2020.

With negotiators worldwide scheduled to meet in Paris next year, the EU has even more reason to take the lead in the climate talks, apart from keeping its place on the moral high ground in the international framework on climate change.

But, having experienced two economic recessions during the past seven years, Juncker and Hoyer are anxious, since European investment in 2013 was about 20 percent less than it was in 2006. With the economic growth rate ranging from zero to one percent in most member states, almost none have surpassed their pre-crisis economic level.

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