European Commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled on Wednesday 26 November his €315 bn investment plan to – in his opinion – kick-start EU growth and create one million jobs. Between empty announcement effects and further attacks on labour, what is the true plan of Mr. Juncker?
This plan is threefold:
First, it is about explaining where the announced money comes from. The plan wishes to mobilize additional public and private investment in the real economy over the next three years. It anticipates a leverage ratio of 15 to turn the €21 bn guarantee fund – from which only €13 bn is actual existing money – into an investment plan worth €315 bn. Juncker said he counts on “the mobilization of all sources and stakeholders” to achieve this goal. But this is neither responsible nor serious, since the calculation used by the EC is based on a presumption that uses itself unproved hypotheses.
Secondly, it seeks at explaining where the money will be allocated. It is about “correcting market deficiencies” – what a confession! – and offer new products. The basics of supply-side policy aren’t challenged, although Juncker himself evokes a “continued weak demand” – to which, however, not a single measure is dedicated. The major critique one can address concerns the fact that the measures aim at financing country-by-country projects. EU countries will compete with each other through a race for subsidies, without a guiding European logic towards the projects to be financed. It is the exact opposite of what should be undertaken – that is, to foster socially useful and ecologically necessary investment measures that would consider Europe as a coherent whole for territorial planning, for the command and control of physical flows on the continent, and for narrowing the deepened divides.
Thirdly, it aims at “making Europe more attractive for investors”. One can wonder as to whether this isn’t the plan’s very substance. If the EC acknowledges that an industrial and investment policy is necessary, its top priority remains to “create a more suitable environment for investment”, which consequently is reflected by “a union of capital markets” whose effects are already predictable with regard to previous and ongoing crises. The plan will also “remove the remaining regulatory and non-regulatory barriers in all sectors (energy, communication, digital, transport), as well as those of the product and services market”. The Juncker Plan will massively boost deregulations, and privatize what hasn’t been so far in the EU. This is highly consistent with the EC’s willingness to sign the free trade agreements being currently negotiated: TTIP, CETA and TISA.
In a nutshell, it will result in even stiffer competition, even more dismantling of the public sector, even more competition between peoples, and even more fiscal and social dumping – all the ingredients for a sharp rise in poverty, injustice, inequalities and division within Europe. It is the continuity and the deepening of the dangerous policies that have been implemented for the past thirty years. The European Commission keeps helping industrialists – but not the development of industry.