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45% of EU companies expect to reduce investment, bank finds

Image: European Investment Bank

‘We should be worried’ about innovation, says European Investment Bank president Werner Hoyer

The European Investment Bank has warned of a “growing investment gap” in Europe, with 45 per cent of companies the EIB surveyed saying they expected to reduce their investments in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic—with potentially dire consequences for R&D.

“We should be worried by the huge dent the coronavirus has made in the intent to invest,” EIB president Werner Hoyer (pictured) said on 20 January. He warned that the EU is “in danger of losing ground in the global competition if it does not mobilise more money for innovation”. Only 6 per cent of companies said they expected to increase their investment.

But Hoyer said he was “encouraged” by investments made under the European Fund for Strategic Investments pioneered by former European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Efsi had facilitated investments of €500 billion over several years by the summer of 2020, which was “ahead of schedule”, Hoyer noted.

The EIB said that its European Investment Fund, which supports high-tech startups and small and medium-sized enterprises across Europe, had “another record year”, signing off investments totalling €12.9bn in 2020—26 per cent more than in 2019.