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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 12:51 GMT
EU agrees $76bn investment plan
Stranded passengers at Rome's Termini train station during September's blackout
The EU cash aims to cut the risk of blackouts as seen in Italy this year
EU leaders have given their backing to a 62bn euro ($76bn, 44bn) investment plan for the next three years.

It is hoped that the series of investments will inject new life into Europe's sluggish economies.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the approval should give "a new push to economic growth and economic reform, particularly concentrating on job creation rather than regulation as the way forward".

However, the package is much smaller than the 220bn euros first proposed, and some economists are sceptical the plan will have much of a direct economic impact.

Joint funding

The decision came at a crucial summit in Brussels on the organisation's new constitution, with the issue of voting rights expected to dominate proceedings.

The money will be distributed amongst a priority list of both public and private investment projects for transport and research projects.

A worker carries a placard bearing the logo of the Italian presidency

Below is a list of some of the projects which will get a slice of the money over the next three years:

The investment will be funded through a combination of EU and national funds, as well as loans from the European Investment Bank and private money.

  • Cross-border gas and electricity links to reduce the risk of blackouts

  • Galileo satellite positioning system

  • High-speed rail links between Liege (Belgium), Cologne Figueras (Spain), and Perpignon (France).

  • Gas pipelines in the North sea and undersea pipelines between North Africa and Spain, Italy and France.

  • Railway tunnels at Malmo and Stockholm in Sweden

  • Roll out of broadband networks to remote areas

  • Research on hydrogen and fuel cells as a replacement for petrol in cars

  • Bridge at Kehl over the Rhine that will link France and German with a high-speed rail network

    The decision was the only major economic issue expected from the two-day summit.




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