Sovereign Fund or Vision Fund? EU riding on contrasting ambitions

Europe is catching up again. At least, it now believes so. Last month, European leaders agreed to set up a $100bn fund to improve the competitiveness of European industries. For the sake of technical disorientation, it is difficult to determine the nature of hundred billions dollars. Although the sentiment to compete with American and Chinese dominance is clear, European nations are playing the jackpot as it fits best. A sovereign fund cannot be a vision fund and vice versa.

There have been interesting developments since the inception of the proposal. It was only towards the end of last month and now France is pouring more than five billion dollars into what it calls as a start-up fund. It makes a curious case for interpretation when the start-up funds are allocated to achieve digital sovereignty. One thing is clear; the purpose is spot on. Perhaps, as a lesson from the past, the European Future Fund, now in retrospection, sounds sluggish and dull. As aggressive the word “sovereign” or “vision” might sound; the clouds of contradictory approach is already stirring European climate. Netherlands will be keeping a close ear into how the discourse develops; it cannot afford to put a wrong foot as a compromise to its serene national policy of encouraging new technologies. Dutch leaders will be holding their thoughts on how the August proposal took turns; its fellow EU allies are looking for a European champion, as the likes of Google and Alibaba. France is searching for the next superstar from Europe. Netherlands is not. Even though, Europe never had one. This, however, is not the end of the story.

Taxpayers in the EU have had their share of excitement when the supranational prowess once attempted “Quaero”, a desperate move to compete with the Google search engine. Google is now more than a search engine, and hence there is a change in the European perspective. The paper proposal clearly mentions how the hundred billion dollars are going to be used for “strategically important industries”. Even if it may seem like a concise strategy to compete with world winners, Europe has realized a striking truth, while the likes of Chinese companies are eating up their shares of profit; unfortunately, it is still looking for the out-performer. A gem that can justify the European fund. Desperation is running high in the European camp. So much as there is an artificial discourse of striving for a Chinese benchmark, of owning more than a thousand billion dollars’ worth of sovereign fund (+investment). Despite, there are widespread reports of Chinese sovereign fund value being entitled to assets as well. Europe is vouching on hard cash, clearly a contrasting approach from the ones it holds feelings, of envy.

As if the European desperation was not already very fascinating; earlier this year in April, the parliament approved of another hundred billion dollars, specifically for scientific and research purposes. The project was named “Horizon Europe”, a vocabulary masterpiece, another message to the world of European ambitions. Nobody in Europe is protesting, but it is clear that “Horizon Europe” is on the side of the European Visionary Fund. Once again, Europe is exhibiting the values of its foundation, a testament to strive for progress and common goals. Evidently, European endeavours are getting to the point of being labelled as spirited experiments, yielding more often than not, in tools that help curb immediate problems like climate change and money laundering. Even if we never sniff a rift between what the hundred billion dollars are going to be used for, Europe has leapt into a changing direction. For a continent waiting in anticipation of UK leaving its borders, there needs to be full praise for the determination to continue with its economic pursuits.

Sisir Devkota
Sisir Devkota
Global Affairs Analyst based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Founder, Trainer & Researcher at "The Protocol" which facilitates analytical research on current affairs and workshops on Diplomacy and Leadership. Masters of Social Science in Democracy & Global Transformations from the University of Helsinki, Finland. Author for a book chapter titled as "Armed Conflicts in South Asia 2013".