When it comes to Europe’s latest money pot, the bigger the better, at least as far as Jean-Claude Juncker is concerned. The European Commission president is, after all, the architect of the new European Fund for Strategic Investments, or EFSI, commonly dubbed the “Juncker Fund.”
The plan is to provide financing for infrastructure and innovation in areas such as energy and digitization on a scale that the market can’t mobilize on its own in the wake of the financial crises that have dogged the continent.
A total of €315 billion, or $344 billion, is to be made available to overcome what E.U. officials call an “investment gap” in the 28-nation bloc, and to create 1.3 million jobs by boosting the E.U.’s gross domestic product by up to €410 billion in three years.
Parts of Europe are still suffering from the financial crisis in 2008-2009 and the debt crisis in 2012. Unemployment this year is expected to be between 8 and 13 percent in the E.U. countries of Belgium, Portugal, France and Italy and as high as 22 and 26 percent in Spain and Greece respectively.
Government debt as a percentage of economic output is estimated at 89 percent in Britain, 96 percent in France, 107 percent in Belgium and 133 percent in Italy, according to European Commission data.