EU finance ministers Saturday were trying to put meat
on the bone of plans to stave off recession risks by mobilizing large
volumes of private and public investments, according to dpa.
The president-elect of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker,
has pledged to work on a 300-billion-euro (390-billion-dollar)
investment plan, but he is not due to take office until November 1.
Meanwhile, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario
Draghi, has warned the current dearth of investments was Europe's
number-one economic problem.
'Today [we] will examine concrete measures to support public and
private investments,' Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, due
to chair a meeting with EU peers in Milan, said before talks got
He said that rather than launching a massive public investment
programme - which cash-strapped countries like Italy can ill afford -
the plan was to make private investors' life easier through
'regulatory simplification [and] possibly incentives.'
France and Germany have presented a technical paper addressing some
of those issues. 'Investment is no magic wand, [but] it is what is
missing in Europe,' French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem - an influential voice
since he chairs eurozone ministerial meetings - said private
investment could be generated 'by opening markets, by having
governments working better.'
Officials insisted that public money needed to be invested 'wisely.'
'It would be very good if countries would prioritise ... in research
and R&D investments,' EU Economy Commissioner Jyrki Katainen said.
'If you spend public money wisely, ... it creates a lot of welfare
The EU finance talks concluded a two-day session that saw meetings
Friday among euro area countries and between the European Union's 28
finance ministers and Asian counterparts under the Europe-Asia
In a statement, ASEM participants said 'economic cooperation between
Europe and Asia continues to be a major driver for global and
regional growth,' and called for 'strengthening trade and investment
relations between their regions.'