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Brussels pledges to cut regulation to attract infrastructure capital

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The European Commission has pledged to grow the single market, while reducing regulation, in order to attract private capital to infrastructure projects.

The executive’s 2015 Work Programme, published after a speech by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to the European Parliament, remained largely unchanged from the leaked version seen by IPE.

The Commission’s agenda for the coming year did not see it dropping the planned revision of the IORP Directive, after the proposal was highlighted as “under review” in a November letter by Juncker and his deputy Frans Timmermans.

In the document’s introduction, the Commission identified removing both regulatory and non-regulatory hurdles as key to attracting investment to the Continent, but also stressed that it was important to further re-enforce the single market.

The introduction also saw the Commission say it would “encourage” the adoption of the Financial Transaction Tax – currently only backed by a minority of member states – and once again highlighted the importance of its proposed Capital Markets Union.

It said the CMU would strengthen cross-border capital flows in the single market to “enable capital to be used in the most productive way”.

Juncker also shed more light on the Commission’s proposed European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), the cornerstone of his €300bn investment package.

In a speech in Strasbourg, he stressed that the EFSI’s launch would go alongside “concrete proposals” to improve the existing investment environment, and by removing barriers in place within the single market.

“There will be no sectorial or geographic pre-allocations or ‘quotas’,” Juncker added.

“However, technical assistance will be stepped up so project promoters and relevant authorities in all countries will be able to present viable and investible projects.”

The emphasis on viable projects will be welcomed by the pensions industry, with the Association of Paritarian Institutions (AEIP) recently stressing that funds should keep in mind their fiduciary duties before investing in infrastructure, as pension assets cannot be expected to fund all projects.

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