European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has given details of a €315bn (£250bn; $393bn) investment plan to kick-start Europe’s economy.
At its heart is a new €21bn fund that would provide loans for infrastructure projects. Mr Juncker hopes most of the rest of the money will come from private backers.
Only €8bn of the original money would come from the EU budget itself.
However, critics doubt it can attract so much private investment.
There was immediate scepticism from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) whose General Secretary, Bernadette Segol, suggested the Commission was “relying on a financial miracle like the loaves and fishes”.
She said she did not believe that €315bn could be raised from €21bn, a leverage factor of 15 which the ETUC argued was “almost certainly unrealistic”.
The Commission believes it could create up to 1.3 million jobs with investment in broadband, energy networks and transport infrastructure, as well as education and research.
“Europe needs a kick-start and today the Commission is providing the jump leads,” Mr Juncker said as he detailed his ambitious five-year plan at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.