Kamall: The money is there and this EU summit needs to focus on unlocking it

Dec 17, 2014


Tomorrow’s EU summit is right to ask how it can break down barriers to private investment in Europe, but leaders cannot talk about competition in Brussels yet fail to reform their own economies at home, Syed Kamall MEP said today in a debate with the Commission President.

The eurorealists’ European Conservatives and Reformists Group leader called on EU leaders to focus not just on the EU’s investment package – where questions remain – but also on action to unlock capital right across the continent for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

However, he warned that EU leaders should not talk about competition and investment in the EU and then return home and fail to take on the vested interests standing in the way of tough economic decisions.

Dr Kamall said:

“We in the ECR welcome the fact that this summit is asking the right questions: how do we bring investment to the countries of the European Union?

“We welcome the proposals on the investment fund not necessarily for its content but because it has kick-started a debate. Not just a debate about 315 billion euros, but a debate about how we unlock the trillions of euros of private money that could be invested in EU member states to create jobs and growth.

“Questions need to be answered: how will the investment fund select and prioritise projects? How will the fund leverage private investment? How will the fund avoid a situation of privatising the profits and nationalising the losses?

“But the wider debate now being held in the EU about competition and investment must be turned into action. After all, we are trying to create an EU-wide market in goods, services and capital. In none of these areas have we completed work, but in the last of these three – a single market in capital – we have hardly even begun.

“Let’s not talk about a capital markets union if it is set to become yet another regulatory union. Instead we need open & transparent well-functioning capital markets so that firms and others do not rely on banks. We need to remove barriers to private finance in Europe. Not just private finance for grand infrastructure projects But also private finance for small businesses and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into goods and services.

“Why is it that non-bank finance such as venture capital and crowd funding are underused in Europe? Let me give you a specific example. I am a regular lender on a website called Kiva.org where entrepreneurs from poorer countries go to raise loans for their businesses. I- and over a million other people lend 25 dollars at a time which are crowd-funded into larger loans. But why is it that I can lend $25 to entrepreneurs in poorer countries but I can’t lend £25 to entrepreneurs in poorer communities in my own constituency? Working to solve this problem with others I have found that we don’t need state intervention, we just need to work with entrepreneurs and crowdsourcing websites such as Crowdpatch or For Common Cause in the UK.

“The money is there, but it needs the will to unlock that money, the aggregate of individuals across the EU willing to lend small amounts.

“So breaking down the barriers to private investment and competition must be our top priorities. But they cannot be done in isolation. They must be part of a wider economic reform programme.

“The Council will repeat its commitment to addressing Europe’s energy challenges, developing the digital single market, and concluding bilateral trade agreements. On all of these issues the ECR has launched working groups that will present new ideas for the future.

“However, it is pointless European leaders coming to Brussels and calling for a culture of competition that will unlock private investment, and then going back to their capitals and failing to take the tough decisions that are urgently needed.

“Many of these structural reforms are unpopular. They will be opposed by vested interests but there is no other way.

“In my country we adopt resolutions for the New Year. Let us ask the EU leaders at Council to adopt their own resolution to reform their own economies, to break down barriers to investment, and to cut red tape for entrepreneurs so they can create new jobs. Let us hope that 2015 is the year that we get the EU back to work.”