European finance ministers seek ways to revive the European economy at an informal Ecofin meeting in Milan. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: The European Union sought ways on Saturday to marshal billions of euros into its sluggish economy without getting deeper into debt, casting the net wide to consider options from a pan-European capital market to a huge investment fund. Finance ministers from the bloc's 28 countries gathered at an informal Ecofin meeting in Milan to flesh out a host of ideas circulating in European capitals. With interest rates already at record lows, ministers need radical steps to help growth at a time of near record unemployment. At their meeting, ministers have four ideas in front of them: an Italian paper on new financing tools for companies, a Franco-German proposal on how to boost private investments, a Polish proposal on creating a joint EU fund and incoming president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker's call for a 300-billion-euro ($907 billion) investment program to revive the European economy. Poland wants a 'European Fund for Investments' that would be able to finance, through leveraging its own capital, 700 billion euros worth of investment. The fund could be a special-purpose vehicle under the umbrella of the European Investment Bank, the EU bank owned by European governments. Italy's proposal is a pan-European market, where smaller companies can raise capital, building on its "minibond" legislation in 2012 that allows unlisted companies to issue. The EU's economy, which generates about a quarter of global output, grew by just 0.1 percent last year and its jobless rate is almost double that of the United States, with around 25 million people unemployed.