European Council: No clear decision on European Growth Initiative

Infrastructure projects and R&D will be the focus of a growth initiative, but EU leaders have not taken a decision on the details of the plan nor the investments involved.

At the European Council meeting in Brussels on 16-17 October, the Heads of State and Government of the 15 current and 10 future Member States decided to back the proposals for a European Growth Initiative and the Interim Report presented by the ECOFIN Council (seeEURACTIV 16 October 2003). However, the final decision on the initiative will only be taken on the next summit meeting on 12-13 December.

The focus of an initiative is expected to be on big infrastructure projects and an investment in research and development. While the 25 leaders have already given their approval to a 50 billion euro contribution of the European Investment Bank (EIB) to infrastructure projects, the specific list of projects will be discussed in December.

The Summit decided to go ahead with the ECOFIN's proposal of a 'quick-start programme' to identify a list of priority projects that should be implemented swiftly (see

EURACTIV 8 October 2003).

There was no agreement yet on precise figures for investment in research and development, but the EU leaders call for a better partnership between the public and private sectors and the greater use of the Structural Funds for R&D projects.

The European Council emphasised that the growth initiative would be consistent with the Stability and Growth Pact and the current Financial Perspective ceilings, and in line with the

Lisbon agenda.

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