Mr President, I thank all participants in this debate for their very interesting contributions, as well as once again my friends and colleagues all the shadow rapporteurs. If anything, I hope that our work together in preparing for this report, as well as the debate in plenary, have served to underline once more the challenge of investment in Europe. When we talk about investment we are really talking about the future, for investment builds the foundations for future progress and for new achievements. We are also talking, however, about the present, for investment replaces and renews those resources which we need now to maintain the living standards of people.
When we say resources we mean material ones, human ones and those resources that relate to knowledge and techniques. The sad truth is that in Europe, as elsewhere, but certainly in Europe, investment in real terms has fallen well below the levels that it had reached, let us say, ten years ago. The shortfall covers both investment to replace what has been used up, as well as investment in new resources and utilities. Whatever our views about the available policy options, we have shown that we care about investment, that we consider it to be a priority. Perhaps there is also agreement that more must be done to promote and enhance it, though there is disagreement about how this challenge can be achieved.
I would like to acknowledge and support the emphasis that the Commission, in its initiatives and in its country-specific recommendations, has given to the topic of investment. Still, the Commission needs to do more, perhaps much more, and not simply by widening the EFSI instrument. It also needs, in my view, to affirm the need for more public investment that is sharper, better focused, better planned, better implemented. However, about this, not all agree.
Finally, I would think that from the debate that we have held on the country-specific recommendations, two other main issues can be underlined. First, there is the importance of allocating more resources to create a European investment culture, to renew investments in education and knowledge-based activities, not least in the digital field but also in the basic sciences, all tying into research and development as well as the quest for innovation. Secondly, there is the need to ensure that the country-specific recommendations are meaningful to all relevant actors so that they also own them. A central involvement should be given to subnational and to regional authorities.
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