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Juncker courts speculators with flimsy ‘grand bargain’

EC president claims new scheme would generate hundreds of billions of euros

European Commission (EC) president Jean-Claude Juncker floated a smoke-and-mirrors scheme before the European Parliament today that he claimed would generate hundreds of billions of euros in new investment to boost the flagging eurozone economy.

Addressing the EU talking shop in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker claimed that his "grand bargain to put Europe back to work" should "unlock" €315 billion (£250bn) over the next three years.

He will take his grand bargain to a December 18-19 summit of political leaders from the 28 EU member states.

The EC president said that under his plan a European Fund for Strategic Investments will rely on €21bn in guarantees from the EU budget and the European Investment Bank to offer loans worth more than €60bn to stimulate investments of at least €315bn.

Mr Juncker said that the fund is necessary to jump-start Europe's economic engine since speculators throughout the continent are wracked by uncertainty.

"Investors lack confidence, credibility and trust," he explained. The EU says that there is plenty of liquidity in the market but investors are looking for the right projects - a euphemism for guaranteed profits.

Investment levels in the EU are down €430bn compared with 2007, the year before the private banking system imploded.

Big business, as in Britain, prefers to sit on billions of pounds of potential investment but will not chance its arm as long as EU economic policy is dictated by Germany's strict fiscal orthodoxy that imposes a long-term deflationary approach.

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