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Business

EU ministers agree on investment plan details

EU finance ministers have approved the details of the bloc's huge investment plan, which is meant to revive the 28 member states' economies. But only few nations have so far pledged contributions.

EU finance ministers on Tuesday agreed on the details of a 315 billion-euro ($388 billion) investment plan to help get the bloc's economies back on their feet. Pending final approval by the European Parliament, the first projects now look likely to start by the end of the year.

"The plan is the answer we need to confront the main handicap of the European economy: the lack of investment," EU Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said in a statement, adding that investment levels in the bloc had fallen by 15 to 20 percent since 2008.

A 21 billion-euro guarantee fund would now be set up, the ministers confirmed, with a view to encouraging private investors to back projects that were currently considered too risky.

Careful selection process

But financial pledges have been slow to come in. Germany and France, the eurozone's two largest economies, had earlier pledged 8 billion euros each in project co-financing, while Spain had said it would make 1.5 billion euros available for the fund.

On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced on Twitter that his country would also contribute 8 billion euros.

The finance ministers made it clear that projects would be selected according to their commercial viability and the added values they would provide to the EU.

Member states have already put forward some 2,000 proposals, ranging from social housing projects to school refurbishments and motorway expansion.

hg/cjc (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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