EU auditors criticize the management of the Juncker Plan | Economy

EU auditors criticize the management of the Juncker Plan | Economy



In an environment of investment anemia in Europe, the implementation of the Juncker Plan in July 2015 it was the recipe of Brussels – with the help of the European Investment Bank (EIB) – to provide antibodies to an organism weakened by the clawing of the recession. Three and a half years later, the initiative is omnipresent in the communication of the European Commission, with new projects announced weekly, and a flood of data that justify its creation. According to Brussels, until last December have mobilized 371,200 million euros, two thirds of them from private investors, to finance 856,000 small and medium enterprises in European territory.

The auditors have immersed themselves in this tangle of data to examine your guts. The general conclusion is positive: the European Court of Auditors recognizes that the Juncker Plan has served to achieve additional investments. But that's where the good news ends. Virtually everything else is an extensive succession of without embargoes along 68 pages that expose their shortcomings and refute an often self-congratulatory story.

The document states that the investment program did not always fulfill its function of bringing fresh money. Sometimes it acted as a mere substitute for operations that in the past corresponded to the EIB, to other EU instruments and even to private sources. Specifically, it estimates that almost a third of the infrastructure and innovation projects could have been carried out without the help of the European fund. To avoid new overlaps, they recommend studying better if they have alternatives in the market to finance themselves.

Geographic imbalances

Another hard blow comes when they refer to the numbers. "In some cases, the methodology used to calculate the mobilized investment overestimated the degree to which the aid actually generated additional investment in the real economy," they warn. In summary: they question the figures of the Commission on the new money that really flows to the companies. The discrepancy here is in the form of accounting. The Commission adds every approved project as mobilized investment, but this formula is not always real: the Court found three operations approved during 2016 whose signature was still pending at the end of 2017.

The auditors They also criticize the unequal distribution of investments. According to its review, the funding was allocated to States with well-established development banks, especially Germany, France, Spain and Italy. And countries with less experience in developing public-private partnerships, such as the Eastern partners, were thus marginalized. The per capita income of the latter is lower than that of the recipient countries of the investment, so although the auditors admit that the fund is not conceived as an instrument of cohesion to redistribute wealth, they ask that the distribution be improved.

The European Commission "takes note" of the report

Faced with criticism by EU auditors of one of the programs most valued by the European Commission, a community spokeswoman told the newspaper yesterday that the executive "takes note" of the report. However, it clarifies that the analysis of the European Court of Auditors focuses on the first two years of the plan's life. And it ensures that most of the defects reported have already been corrected and that the current design of the program incorporates most of the recommendations of the auditors.

According to the Brussels estimates, the plan has increased the EU GDP by six tenths and has contributed to creating 750,000 jobs so far. Its forecasts indicate that this figure will multiply in coming years until the economy advances 1.3% of GDP in 2020 and add 1.4 million jobs.

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