More integration with more attractive regions for investment

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

There are still significant economic disparities within the EU, such as the ones between North and South or among different EU regions. But EU member states have a common interest in tackling those challenges together, argues Rodi Kratsa-Tsagapopoulou.

Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou is a Greek member of the European Parliament for the New Democracy Party, an affiliate of the European People's Party. She is also a former vice president of the EU Assembly.

"Prospects for the global economy are slowly improving again, but growth is expected to be weak, especially in Europe. The European Union needs to urgently take further steps and actions, based on solidarity and responsibility for integration and growth. 

Investments are at the heart of economic recovery and development given their significant contribution to growth, social and economic development and regional convergence.

My own-initiative report – "Attractiveness of investing in Europe" – urges for an integrated and coherent strategy at both national and European level, in parallel with ensuring fiscal consolidation and regaining confidence of markets and investors in EU economies and the euro, encouraging foreign and local investments.

The EU remains the first investment destination globally, but it faces growing competition from emerging economies while the prolonged sovereign debt crisis is weakening this position. At the same time, there are still significant disparities within the EU, such as the ones between North and South or among different EU regions.

We have a common interest in tackling those challenges together. It should not be forgotten that the risks of a eurozone break-up imply disastrous scenarios for all countries, while stability would have beneficial effects for everyone.

Innovative financial instruments, such as project bonds and the ones based on public-private partnerships and sovereign wealth funds can play an important and additional role to national reforms and efforts.

I also advocate a more active role for the European Central Bank in order to inject liquidity and reduce excessive financing costs that many countries face, as well as the European Investment Bank for national or cross-border investment, calling for greater fiscal coordination of tax systems and strengthening cooperation of economic actors and complementarities between EU economies for a balanced base of investments.

The report suggests the creation of a European Observatory for foreign direct investments, within the European Commission, to monitor and evaluate the policies applied, promoting also Europe as an investment destination. Furthermore, it calls on the Commission to prepare a communication on the attractiveness of investing in Europe.

The report stresses the need to exploit Europe's strengths such as the euro, the structural funds and the single market which is developing a friendly and motivational environment for businesses, workers and consumers, encouraging institutional investors to participate in European venture capital funds which can particularly benefit start-up companies, boosting entrepreneurship and employment.

Moreover, the EU and member states are encouraged to invest more on education, research and innovation, highlighting their comparative advantages on human capital.

The international challenges and the success of the Europe 2020 goals require a decisive Europe to serve the common interest for growth and unity. In this framework investments will be able to grow on a balanced base and have a positive impact on all regions and citizens." 

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