IE students debate with the European Commission Vicepresident, Jyrki Katainen, on Europe’s Investment Plan
A handful of students represented IE on Friday, February 27th during a debate with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen, the Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness, Luis de Guindos, and Pablo Zalba, Member of the European Parliament for the Group of the European People’s Party.
At a rather critical moment for the EU in the wake of the financial crisis, 50 students convened from several universities to listen to Vice President Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, elaborate on President Juncker’s investment plan. The idea is to close the massive investment gap (€434 billion fall from 2007) crippling Europe’s employment and long-term growth. The Commission has chosen as its plan of attack a trifecta consisting of the mobilization of public and private funds, a transparent pipeline to identify viable investment projects, and the removal of sector specific and other financial barriers to investment in hopes to improve the overall business environment.
Still having not recovered from the financial crisis, Vice President Katainen reinforced the importance of this plan at a time of devastating and stubborn unemployment figures across much of Europe and concerning levels of economic inequality among Member States. But its enforcement cannot only be top-down, said Mr. Katainen. He emphasized the role of each EU country assuming national responsibility and personal accountability in upholding the plan and doing its part to contribute to overall growth and investment. Together, he says, the EU can raise €300 billion over the next 3 years in additional public and private investment by supporting local businesses, upgrading transport, funding broadband in low density areas, and expanding R&D.
Vice President Katainen admits the lack of demand is indeed a real problem for Europe, but bolstering confidence among its citizens in financial institutions again is key. Whether it be Greek debt, Spanish unemployment, or the host of other challenges facing EU Member States, Mr. Katainen calls for increased financial, political, and social integration to overcome them. With the unprecedented degree of integration that Europe has achieved comes unprecedented cooperation, cohesion, and solidarity. Only with one voice, says Mr. Katainen, can the EU reach a truly influential role in the world.
You can watch the full video of the debate here (in English and Spanish): http://www.ec.nirestream.com/