The European Parliament supported the €315-billion “Juncker investment plan” that was announced by the European Commission last November. Following talks with the Council, Parliament changed its financing structure, gained more influence over the program’s leadership and guaranteed more democratic oversight. The plan was approved by 464 votes to 131 with 19 abstentions. The Parliament’s “yes” marks the end of a legislative process showing Parliament’s commitment to the package.
A modification of the program’s financing structure, governance rules, and working arrangements were high on the Parliament’s agenda. Major achievements were, first, that the deal ensured that the €1 billion salvaged for the programs would be paid for out of the unused budget margins of 2014 and 2015 and, second, the Commission won the right to approve the appointment of the managing director of the program and the deputy managing director of the investment fund.
Jose Manuel Fernandes, a Budgets Committee’s rapporteur, said that the Juncker Plan was an innovative tool that would kick-start investment in Europe. “€240 billion from the plan will go to investments, and €75 billion will go to the backbone of our economy: the small and medium-sized enterprises that provide two thirds of private sector jobs and make up 99 percent of businesses in Europe. Politicians don’t create jobs, but we can help those who do,” he added.
After the Parliament’s approval, the Council of Ministers will also need to do the same. Its written approval should, however, come soon since the Council confirmed its provisional agreement already on 9 June. First regulations of the Juncker plan should be implemented as early as at the beginning of July and the investment fund should be fully operational by September. The Juncker Plan aims to create a European Fund for Strategic Investments made up of €5 billion capital from the European Investment Bank and a €16 billion guarantee fund.