Investing in Education – All that glitters is not gold


It is less than three months that the European Commission has launched its Investment Plan for Europe as first guidance on how Europe can overcome the financial and economic crisis. Investments in education and training stand at the core of the general objectives of the financing and investment operations of the Plan. The European Commission thus recognises that high-quality education and training is a key factor for social inclusion and at a later stage translates into economic growth.

On 20 January, speaking at the European Parliament, European Commissioner for Education and Culture Tibor Navracsisc confirmed that 'education is one of the top priorities for new investment. [..] We need to invest in education and training so that Europe trains better teachers, provides citizens with the right skills, and keeps education as open as possible to the greatest number of people'.

In order to implement the plan, the European Commission adopted a draft regulation on the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI will gather investments coming from the EU (€ 16 billion of public guarantee and €5 billion from the EIB) from member states and from private investors. Through the mobilisation of public money, the plan is supposed to generate up to € 315 billion of private investment. Although there is a great focus on the need to invest more in education, the money gathered in the EFSI will be used mainly for public - private partnerships. Unfortunately, there is neither a clarification on the role of public-private partnership in deploying the new funds in education nor a clear definition of responsibilities of public investment in education.

It is foreseen that member states are given the opportunity to contribute to the Investment fund by providing more flexibility in the calculation of their public deficit and debt. However, the devil is in the details, and another Communication from the European Commission Making the best use of the flexibility within the existing rules of the Stability and Growth Pact in January 2015 recalls that such flexibility is not allowed for those member states which do not respect the ceilings of 3% for budget deficit and are currently in the excessive deficit procedure.  France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece are only some of those who will not be able to make it.

Investment Plan for Europe