European finance ministers on Tuesday approved the key components of Jean-Claude Juncker's flagship investment plan, the EU's effort to revive the continent's flagging economy.
Ministers from the bloc's 28 member states approved the details of the scheme, as Italy pledged 8.0 billion euros (8.6 billion dollars) to the programme, matching similar commitments from Germany, France and Spain.
"This is a very good day indeed, the council (of ministers) just decided to go with the proposal," European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen told a news conference after the ministers met in Brussels.
"It is clear now that all the member states share the same view with the commission that we need investment in Europe," he said.
The EU's proposed 315 billion euro investment plan is a central policy goal for Juncker, the former Luxembourg premier who took over the presidency of the European Commission in November.
The plan is intended to spur growth in Europe through an elaborate scheme involving the European Investment Bank and funds from the EU's budget that would not further strain national coffers.
The commitment from Italy and the other member states is a bittersweet success for the commission, which had originally hoped governments would contribute directly to the fund.
Instead, the contributions will be made only via national investment banks -- thereby guaranteeing that the funds will go towards domestic projects -- in a blow to the Juncker plan's original EU-wide spirit.
Katainen said he did not know why governments backtracked on the idea of funding the Juncker plan directly, but insisted that "this made no difference" to its overall success.
With the approval by the ministers, the Juncker plan now goes to the European Parliament, where swift passage is expected to allow for the plan's launch by June or July, Katainen said.