The ‘EU Bank’ is the biggest public bank in the world. Last year it spent EUR 65 billion and it is at the heart of investment plans designed at EU level. The bigger the EIB grows, the more transparency, accountability and democratic control are crucial if it is to operate effectively and in everyone’s interest. As representatives of the European people, MEPs have a fundamental role to play in this regard.
Counter Balance’s new toolkit for MEPs highlights the EIB’s role, raises some areas where the bank needs to improve and identifies opportunities for MEPs to gain democratic control over this institution. Among the main challenges under the spotlight, the bank’s lack of transparency and accountability, as well as its unsustainable investments in fossil fuels and its human rights shortfalls related to its supposed “sustainable development” mandate for operations outside the EU.
MEPs have several opportunities to hold the bank to account and to influence its policies and investments. They have co-decision power in relation to guarantees awarded to the Bank for its operations outside of Europe, as well as under the “Investment Plan for Europe”. Hence, there is room for the Parliament to demand more transparency, push for benchmarks for sustainable development or clean energy. The parliament’s resolution on the EIB’s annual report also features among the different chances for parliamentarians to steer change in the bank’s conduct.
But Counter Balance’s guide doesn’t limit itself to the European politics level. Considered the key role that EU member states play in the decision-making bodies of the bank, the toolkit also identifies room for maneuver at national level and points to the important role that national parliaments could play in fostering improvement at the EU’s bank.