- European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker urged leaders on Wednesday to contribute generously to a new EU investment plan but member states seem determined to wait for now.
EU leaders meet Thursday in Brussels to greenlight the broad outline of Juncker’s 315 billion euro investment plan, intended to kick-start growth in Europe by financing a wide array of projects.
The plan is based on 21 billion euros ($26 billion) in seed money from the EU budget and the bloc's European Investment Bank, but could be boosted considerably if member states put hand to pocket.
"Several states have shown potential interest," Juncker said in a debate at the European Parliament.
"I now wait for concrete proposals and not just 'talk-talk'. I need 'money-money', hard cash now," he said.
But on the eve of the summit, European sources said that while leaders would back the plan, contributions would come only once it was up-and-running with the appropriate laws in place.
"There is a logic to the sequence: First the legislative, then contributions," a senior European official said on condition of anonymity.
To encourage member states, Juncker's plan indicates that contributions would not be counted as part of their national budgets, many of which are in breach of deficit rules which Brussels has tightened up considerably during the debt crisis.
Cash-strapped Italy and Spain have expressed interest in pitching in, but only with a much clearer guarantee that contributions would be looked on favourably by Commission budget overseers.
Despite the doubts, member states are eager to see funds for projects, many of which have been stalled for years.
Last week, member states released a list of 2,000 projects worth 1.3 trillion euros, in hopes of attracting funding.
The projects include a Frankfurt airport expansion and an underwater fibre-optic link between the Canary Islands and Brazil.