Brussels – 8 December 2023
The new European Investment Bank (EIB) President Nadia Calviño must tap into the Bank’s green and social potential. She should direct the EIB to mobilise its resources to meet the fundamental needs of people and to assist with transforming our society into one that’s ecological and sustainable.
Calviño was appointed as the new EIB President by the Finance Ministers of the 27 EU Member States. She will succeed current President Werner Hoyer next year.
Frank Vanaerschot, Director of Counter Balance: 'Calviño takes the EIB helm at a critical moment for Europe. She must seize the moment and make a just transition fundamental to the Bank’s climate ambitions. Until now, the EIB has provided significant support to big business, putting corporate profits over people. To change this, the Bank must use its EUR 248 billion of subscribed capital to finance environmentally friendly essential services like public housing and energy for the EU citizens and taxpayers who ultimately own the Bank.’
Last year, more than half of the EIB’s loans (EUR 39 billion) went to financial institutions and corporations, assuming benefits would eventually ‘trickle down’ to the public. But this money has failed to reach the people facing the cost-of-living crisis. Instead, it’s ended up lining the pockets of its rich shareholders. Shockingly, the Bank still allows companies, banks and intermediaries it works with to continue their polluting activities.
Calviño must ensure that the Bank adopts strict environmental and social criteria for companies and financial institutions it works with. This includes taking serious steps to improve transparency and accountability, such as a standard and timely disclosure of environmental and social assessments for all projects in line with the recommendations of the European Ombudsman.
To support the just transition, the Bank should step up its work with local, regional and national public bodies to deliver affordable quality public services that meet the needs of the EU population. Instead of bankrolling huge corporations, it should increase its support for sustainable small businesses at the center of our economies, as well as enterprises with inclusive and equitable governance structures.
To deliver on these objectives, Calviño must modernise and democratise the Bank’s governance structure, drawing on the positive examples set by other public finance institutions such as Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). It also needs to do much more to involve the representatives of unions, civil society, and local authorities in the decision-making process.
Anna Roggenbuck, CEE Bankwatch Network: ‘Outside the EU, the Bank’s development branch EIB Global must involve local stakeholders in decision-making to allow them to shape their sustainable development path. We regret that the EIB ignored NGOs calls and adopted the EIB Global Strategy without any public consultations outside the EU. We expect the new President to include global civil society in the bank’s decision making. The EIB must immediately implement all recommendations provided to it by the European Ombudsman on transparency and public participation. It’s high time that EIB Global adopted a strong human rights policy and an effective and independent complaints mechanism for communities negatively impacted by EIB operations seeking justice.’
EIB Global’s development projects must rigorously and clearly demonstrate how they contribute to meeting development goals, prioritise marginalised and vulnerable communities, and reduce inequality and poverty. To ensure high transparency on its human rights, environmental and democratic standards, EIB Global should shift from working with financial intermediaries to directly supporting projects involving local communities and public groups best positioned to make sure development funds reach the people who need it most.
For more information, please contact Counter Balance Director Frank Vanaerschot on +32 (0)487671627 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
- In a joint letter in April 2023, the Fossil Free EIB coalition urged the EIB to step up its efforts to address the direct and indirect environmental impacts of its activities, stressing the need for significant and tangible progress in aligning its lending practices with a socially just transition in the upcoming review of the EIB’s Climate Bank Roadmap.
- Civil society also raised concerns about the EIB’s development activities outside the EU. The EIB is not an accountable development bank: its policies and standards are not strong enough to ensure that international development is implemented in a responsible way.