Ireland and Europe need a real public investment plan not Juncker's window dressing - Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Speaking at a special conference on the European Fund for Strategic Investment (also known as the EFSI or Juncker Plan) Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada criticised the plan as a ‘pilot project dressed up as a structural fund’ and called for a Europe-wide public investment programme to bring about economic growth and recovery.
"The Juncker Plan has to come with a massive health warning. While we welcome and indeed have been calling for investment as opposed to austerity, the EFSI does little to boost public investment.
“We have European citizens living under incredibly dramatic economic and financial conditions, large employers are relocating to Asia, and there is no investment. Working conditions are worsening, unemployment is increasing , our young people have no expectations of a future, poverty has reached alarming levels, the welfare system is crumbling, and the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.
“It is clear that the solution is a massive smart investment to revive the economy, to enable a social, sustainable and green economy. We need investment in research, infrastructure, education, SMEs, social enterprises and cooperatives. We have to enhance local markets, which will prove the key to propelling us out of this crisis.
“The EFSI is a pilot project dressed up as a structural fund. There is no real increase in funds being made available. It is simply picking up money that the European Budget and the EIB had already allocated to attract private investment, weakening its legal framework and thereby increasing the exposure of public resources in the interests of the private sector.
“It represents less than 1% of the annual EU budget, which is already less than one percent of the EU Member States GDP. The EFSI, as is proposed right now is a confirmation of the EU's austerity policies.
What we need is a real public investment plan for Europe, and in particular for the poorer regions and countries. A real investment plan that supports and facilitates the development of a social and green economy, the creation of jobs, the promotion of quality research and development, the renewal of welfare structures, the protection of schools, universities and hospitals, and the care of our elderly. We need investment that puts a real, sustainable and social recovery ahead of the short–term profits of banks and other lending institutions.'