InvestEU Fund: A Rebranded Juncker Fund?

Almost four years ago, EU leaders endorsed the idea of the then recently appointed president of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to launch an “Investment Plan for Europe”. The main element of this Plan was the creation of a new type of instrument, the “European Fund for Strategic Investments” (EFSI), popularly known as the “Juncker Fund”. In June 2018, the Commission released its proposal of a “InvestEU Fund”, the EU’s investment instrument which will replace the “Juncker Fund” after 2020. According to the Commission, the new Fund builds on the experience of the EFSI but how similar is it to it? Is it just a rebranding operation or are we in front of a different instrument?

This paper, by Eulalia Rubio, senior research fellow at the Jacques Delors Institute, and Fleurilys Virel, research assistant at the Jacques Delors Institute, describes the main features of the InvestEU Fund, analyses what it changes with respect to the “Juncker fund” (EFSI) and provides a first assessment of the Commission’s legislative proposal.

Overall, they find that:

  • There is a move from a system composed of 15 EU Financial Instruments and one EU guarantee (EFSI) to a single EU investment support scheme (InvestEU Fund). This is positive, as it will allow for more flexibility and will eliminate duplicities between EU instruments identified in EFSI evaluations.
  • Various aspects of the InvestEUFund (a lower investment target, more policy steering) reflect the willingness to shift from a focus on quantity (mobilizing a major volume of private investment) to quality (crowding in private investment in specific sectors suffering from persistent market gaps). This is a coherent move given the improvement of investment conditions in Europe.
  • The implementation of InvestEU Fund will not be exclusively entrusted to the EIB group (as it is the case for the Juncker Fund) but offered to a plurality of eligible implementing partners. While this is a transformational decision, it may entail little changes in practice given the strict conditions and limits imposed to new actors and the fact that the European Investment Bank (EIB) remains the “privileged partner”.
  • Whereas the “Juncker Fund” is organized in two windows, InvestEU Fund has four thematic “policy windows” (sustainable infrastructure research; innovation and digitisation; SMEs and mid-caps; and social investment and skills). Whereas a more detailed breakdown allows better targeting policy-specific investment needs, the proposed allocation of resources is not well-justified in the proposal. As it currently stands, the new InvestEUFund will cover almost half of the existing investment gap in SMEs and mid-caps in Europe but only 10% of the gap in sustainable infrastructures.
  • The new Fund offers more incentives to transfer part of member states’ cohesion funds to the EU level. In particular, under InvestEUFund national authorities can appoint their own National Promotional Bank to set-up and implement financial instruments covered by the EU guarantee.