Today Counter Balance is filing a complaint against the European Investment Bank (EIB) at the European Ombudsman [1]. The Complaints Mechanism of the Bank seems unable to function appropriately. Almost two years after a complaint on the Bujagali hydropower project in Uganda, the Complaints Office still did not come to a conclusion, this due to a lack of resources and internal difficulties and obstructions within the EIB.

The four organisations – NAPE, Sherpa, CLAI and Counter Balance – that filed the original complaint at the EIB’s Complaints Office against the Bujagali hydropower project in November 2009 are now stepping to the European Ombudsman.

“After two years of waiting and deadlines passing we have no other option than to take this case to the European Ombudsman. The plaintiffs and the people affected have the right to an answer to their complaints. It is our only tool left to keep some pressure on the Bank” Caterina Amicucci from Counter Balance explains.

“The complexity of the case does not justify the delay. The first draft report was promised to us already by September 2010. It has been delayed time and again ever since without a clear reason but internal pressure. We believe EIB staff did not want to see their work evaluated by the Complaint Office. This confirms the unwillingness of the Bank to be held to account. In such circumstances the Complaints Mechanism cannot function and proves to be nothing more than an empty box”, Amicucci says.

Local communities believe the project will only benefit the Ugandan elites, they are concerned about the environmental impact of the project and they are still waiting for compensations for the damage to their property that the project caused. Two years they have been waiting for results without a reaction from the Bank. Meanwhile the EIB just kept on disbursing the loan [3].

Notes for editors

[1] Find the entire complaint including a summary of the communication between Counter Balance and the Complaints Office here.
[2] In an earlier press release we already denounced the fact that the EIB kept on disbursing the loan in spite of the complaint.