EIB Approves Four Energy Projects for Juncker’s Investment Plan

The European Investment Bank gave the green light to four energy projects that will receive guarantees from a proposed 315 billion-euro ($351 billion) investment plan.

The EIB announced the energy initiatives Tuesday as part of a 21-project, 8 billion-euro package approved by its board of directors. The financing earmarked for the EU investment fund totaled 710 million euros, which is expected to support total investment of more than 5.3 billion euros, the EIB said.

The guarantees for the four projects linked to the investment plan still require European Union nations and the European Commission to strike a deal with the European Parliament on the legislation. Exact amounts will be confirmed when contracts are signed in the coming weeks and months.

The four projects cover improvements to the Spanish gas distribution network, energy efficiency investments in France, a renewable energy-powered pulp mill in Finland and cross-border energy investment across Northern and Western Europe. The EIB said it will support the projects even if they don’t receive an EU guarantee in the end.

EU negotiators are meeting in Strasbourg, France, this week to try to hammer out a deal on the investment plan, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s flagship effort to jumpstart growth. The parliament aims to reach a deal with nations and the commission by a May 27 negotiating session, with an eye toward final passage in June.

Investment Oversight

When EU finance ministers met in Brussels last week, ministers were reluctant to make concessions on oversight powers sought by the legislature. As proposed, the plan would use 5 billion euros from the European Investment Bank alongside 16 billion euros in European Union guarantees. It aims for a 15-to-one leverage.

The investment plan’s core, the European Fund for Strategic Investments, should be up and running by September if nations and the parliament can reach a deal soon, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

Talks are making “good progress,” Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said in a statement. “I am happy that the EIB is honoring its commitment to pre-finance projects even before the EFSI is up and running.”

“It is very encouraging especially that with two of these operations, the bank successfully tests mechanisms for financing energy efficiency and innovative energy technologies,” EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement.

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