In the last decades, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has become a significant player in the field of development finance. With the creation of its new ‘EIB Global’ development branch in 2022, the bank is planning to step up its development role in support of EU development policies. This position paper, signed by 23 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), sets out a series of recommendations on how EIB Global can help the EIB become a true development bank.
As the European Union is revamping its toolbox on development finance, in which the EIB’s role will be central, CSOs are paying close attention to these recent developments. In fact, the new EIB Global will play a pivotal role in the new European Fund for Sustainable Development +, the main global investment tool of the EU in the post-2020 era. Indeed, the bank is the sole implementer of investment windows dedicated to lending to sovereign and sub-sovereign entities, and will be competing with other public banks to access guarantees from the EU budget to support the private sector.
CSOs have been following the EIB’s record in the development field for years and they have documented serious problems with EIB-funded projects which include a lack of development orientation and transparency, failures in due diligence and major shortcomings in environmental, social and human rights standards. The harmful impact of diverse projects from Nepal to Kenya and Georgia to Bosnia and Herzegovina has been consistently criticised by CSOs. The impacted communities have lodged numerous cases to the EIB complaints mechanism testifying on the seriousness of the impacts of EIB operations on their lives and their livelihoods. Over the last few years, the majority of cases dealt with by the EIB Complaints Mechanism related to projects outside of the EU.
The EIB is not yet a development bank, and to date the changes promised around the creation of EIB Global seem rather technical and cosmetic. Therefore, civil society calls for a profound transformation at the bank.