European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered Wednesday his 2016 State of the Union address, setting out key priorities for the year including the creation of an investment fund for Africa and other European Union (EU) neighbors.
“With economic growth in developing countries at its lowest level since 2003, this is crucial. The new Plan will offer lifelines for those who would otherwise be pushed to take dangerous journeys in search of a better life,” said President Juncker.
The proposal calls for the new fund to get 3.35 billion euros from the EU budget and the European Development Fund to support guarantees and other instruments to boost private investment and mobilize up to 44 billion euros of investments.
If EU Member States and other partners match the contribution, the total amount could reach 88 billion euros.
Noting the huge potential in the Middle East and Africa, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said, “European firms are already creating jobs and growth in our entire neighborhood and in Africa, for the benefit of our partners and of the European citizens. While creating the conditions for Europeans to expand their business and move into new countries, the new External Investment Plan will support our partners’ economies and societies, as well as our strategic foreign policy goals, from security to global development.”
In his State of the Union address, President Juncker also announced a series of other major initiatives, including increased investment in youth, jobseekers, and start-ups and sustainable growth, a new European Border and Coast Guard, and a European Defense Fund to boost research and innovation.