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EU finance ministers endorse ambitious strategy to build on strengths of EIB Group




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European Investment Bank President Nadia Calviño today shared with EU finance ministers an ambitious strategy to build on the strengths of the EIB Group, focus on eight core policy priorities and deploy the full potential of the institution to boost growth and social and territorial cohesion, and support Europe’s leadership in the twin green and digital transitions, as well as increasing Europe´s competitiveness, open strategic autonomy and economic security.

The discussion, which took place during the informal Ecofin in Ghent, was the first strategic exchange of views between EIB governors and the new president, who took up her duties on 1 January 2024.

The meeting followed several intensive weeks of engagement meetings between the president and the Bank’s individual shareholders, during which Calviño visited several capitals and met with ministers and heads of government.

At the heart of the approach unveiled today in Ghent by the EIB Group president is closing the investment gap in innovation, new technologies, and physical and social infrastructure, within and beyond the European Union, for the benefit of Europe’s regions, businesses and citizens.

New initiatives put on the table aim to focus investments on climate change mitigation and adaptation and the energy transition, digitalisation and new technologies. They also include plans to step up investment in security and defence, to increase support for and the scaling up of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to reinforce territorial cohesion and social infrastructure in areas such as education, health and affordable housing, and to invest in agriculture and biotech. Outside the European Union, the strategy’s focus is on support for Ukraine and a successful enlargement process, as well as for the EU Global Gateway strategy.

“I very much welcome today’s constructive discussions with the EU finance ministers, chaired by the Belgian presidency. The strong endorsement of our strategy from ministers will help us build on the strengths of the EIB Group and deploy this powerful instrument to its full potential to support strategic EU priorities and successfully tackle today’s global challenges,” said President Calviño.

Chairing today’s meeting, was Belgium’s Finance Minister and Chair of the EIB Board Vincent Van Peteghem. He said, “Europe is facing tremendous challenges, requiring tremendous financing. As the largest multilateral bank in the world, the EIB can help governments in mobilising the funds needed to finance the challenges we face, such as defence, climate and competitiveness. The EIB has the right expertise and the right tools to bring the private sector on board. By putting a quality stamp on certain investment projects, the EIB gives strong credibility to more risky projects, allowing private investors to come on board.”


Building on EIB Group strengths, focusing on eight core priorities

President Calviño presented a set of eight core priorities to ministers that will help build a more resilient, fair and competitive economy: consolidating the climate bank; accelerating technological innovation and digitalisation; stepping up investment in security and defence; contributing to modern cohesion policy; developing innovative financing for agriculture and the bioeconomy; gearing up investment in social infrastructure; pioneering the Capital Markets Union and focusing activities outside the European Union on the Global Gateway strategy, Ukraine and a successful enlargement process.

The EIB president also outlined plans to step up EIB Group financing for Europe’s security and defence, with a strong focus on new technologies, critical infrastructure such as border control, cybersecurity, space and dual-use technologies like drones. The strategy also includes fresh support for new and stronger partnerships. “We are already engaging with the European Commission and other key stakeholders on the scope and definition of ‘dual-use’,” she added.

Among the topics discussed was also the creation of new financing tools for strategic technologies, such as chips, as well as for key sectors of the economy, most notably small and medium businesses.

Following the Ecofin discussion, the EIB Group will work with its Board of Directors to explore and fine-tune proposals for:

·        an SME energy efficiency programme to scale up a core group of green and economically efficient technologies;

·        a new water programme to help cities, regions and businesses, especially famers and the agriculture sector, manage the impact of drought and flooding, digitalise and increase the efficiency of the water cycle;

·        a new FASTER programme to accelerate digitalisation and technological innovation within the European Union;

·        pioneering EU financial instruments that can form building blocks for the Capital Markets Union.

Deploying the full potential of the EIB Group to close the investment gap

Closing the investment gap for Europe’s success in the green and digital transitions requires the full mobilisation of public resources, cutting red tape, reducing the time to market and crowding-in the private sector.

President Calviño also laid out ambitious plans to increase efficiency in the EIB Group’s operations, for example by streamlining and digitalising processes, and thus cutting the time it takes for projects to be approved and delivered on the ground.

The EIB is the financial arm of the European Union, with a balance sheet of over €550 billion, a solid financial position and an unparalleled track record of investment in major infrastructure, climate and innovation. The EIB acts as a catalyst for private investment (for every euro of EIB capital deployed, 40 euros of investment is mobilised) and plays a countercyclical role contributing to economic stability. This provides a very strong basis for gearing up activities in the coming years.

Background information

The European Investment Bank (ElB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union, owned by its Member States. It finances sound investments that contribute to EU policy objectives. EIB projects bolster competitiveness, drive innovation, promote sustainable development, enhance social and territorial cohesion, and support a just and swift transition to climate neutrality.

The EIB Group, which also includes the European Investment Fund (EIF), signed a total of €88 billion in new financing for over 900 projects in 2023, €49 billion of which went to green investments. These commitments are expected to mobilise around €320 billion in investment, supporting 400 000 companies and 5.4 million jobs.

All projects financed by the EIB Group are in line with the Paris Climate Accord. We are on track to deliver on our commitment to support €1 trillion in climate and environmental sustainability investment in the decade to 2030 as pledged in our Climate Bank Roadmap. Over half of the EIB Group’s annual financing supports projects directly contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and a healthier environment.

Approximately half of the EIB’s financing within the European Union is directed towards cohesion regions, where per capita income is lower. This underscores the Bank’s commitment to fostering inclusive growth and the convergence of living standards as well as a just green transition throughout the European Union.

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