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EIB approves €5 billion financing for innovation, renewables and housing

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Sustainable transport, renewable energy, industrial innovation, social housing, internet and mobile telecommunications investment will benefit from €5 billion of new financing approved by the European Investment Bank (EIB). During the two-day meeting in Bucharest this week the Board of the European Investment Bank decided to support transformational projects across Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

“Europe works – it has never been as important to recall this fact as it is today. And the EIB works extremely well. We demonstrate it every day in a very concrete way. In July we exceeded our target under the Juncker Plan, mobilizing €335bn in new investment across Europe since 2015. We are already busy working towards the €500bn EFSI 2020 objective set by the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. We shouldn’t forget that this comes on top of the operations the EU Bank finances as part of its normal activity in the EU and beyond, which deliver strong, concrete benefits to Europeans and those outside the Union,” said European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer.

Record €450 million agriculture loan signed ahead of Bucharest board meeting

Ahead of the board meeting EIB President Werner Hoyer and Vice President Andrew McDowell, responsible for lending operations in the country, confirmed the EIB’s largest ever agriculture financing in Romania. The new EUR 450 million loan will support agriculture investment at 3,000 farms and improve public services in rural areas.

During the visit President Hoyer discussed the EIB’s engagement and Romanian investment priorities with Minister of Public Finance Teodorovici and attended the launch of the Three Seas initiative with Vice President Vazil Hudák.

“It is great for the EU Bank to meet here in Bucharest ahead of the Romanian EU presidency, which will preside over crucial developments, the European elections and Brexit. It is only fitting that the EIB focuses today on Romania, where we have provided more than €13bn to support 183 projects since 1991. This week the EIB provided its largest ever support to agriculture in the country. All these are marks of the exceptionally fruitful partnership between the EU Bank and this country. The welcome we have received has been extraordinary, and I wish to thank Minister of Public Finance Teodorovici for the wonderful hospitality. We look forward to supporting the Romanian presidency in every way we can, as we further strengthen this strong, positive relationship,” added Hoyer.

The EIB Board of Directors, representing the 28 EU member state shareholders and the European Commission, meets once a year in the country that will hold the next EU Presidency. Romania will hold the rotating EU Presidency from 1 January, 2019.

 Unlocking urban development and improving social housing

EIB support to improve the energy efficiency of housing was amongst €482m of financing for urban and housing projects agreed by the September board meeting.

Additional financing was approved for the construction of new energy efficient housing in Wilhelmshaven, urban development in Wrocław and the Italian region of Friuli.

Harnessing renewable energy and cutting energy use

A total of €1.2bn of new lending for five energy projects was agreed. Among the projects to be financed by the EIB are 21 new wind farms to be built across Spain, as well as new solar and renewable energy projects in the country.

The EIB will also back investment into industrial energy efficiency schemes in Uzbekistan and the development of a dedicated terminal at the Port of Brest for the construction of offshore wind projects.

Backing industrial innovation and improving competitiveness

The EIB decided to provide more than €820m for six projects to support industrial investment across Europe.

This includes research and innovation by the Italian company Piaggio to reduce fuel consumption by scooters, motorcycles and commercial vehicles and develop a range of electric vehicles.

Additional financing will be provided for digitalization investment by metals company Eramat and the world’s largest water soluble polymer manufacturer S.P.C.M.

Supporting private sector investment with local partners

The board approved new support for investment by agriculture, tourism, industrial and service focused companies in Italy and SME’s across Spain, alongside a new €70m microfinance initiative to help micro enterprises in the Western Balkans and North Africa.

Enhancing mobile and broadband communications

The EIB has a strong track-record supporting telecommunication investment around the world, including development of new technology, improving mobile coverage and the roll-out of high-speed broadband networks.

The board decided to support the design and roll-out of a new fibre-to-the-home network that will transform internet access for 410,000 households in rural communities in south-western France.

It also approved financing to deploy a 5G mobile broadband across Finland and upgrade and expand existing 4G services.

 Strengthening urban and national sustainable transport

The EIB board supported new urban rail projects in Augsburg, Kaunas, Buenos Aires and Dhaka. Existing rail infrastructure in the Czech Republic will be modernised and rail traffic management across 13,600 km of the Polish network transformed through new EIB backing.

New EIB investment will better protect road networks in Laos from extreme weather and help to improve road safety in Montenegro.

Improving sanitation and access to clean water

The EIB is the world’s largest international financier of water investment. Proposals to support the construction of a water treatment facility in the Cambodian capital Pnomh Penh and water infrastructure across Bolivia were approved by the September board meeting alongside financing to enhance the supply of clean water and sanitation in Uzbekistan.

€4.7bn of new investment backed by the Investment Plan for Europe

Financing for 14 projects approved by the EIB board will be guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments and mobilize an estimated €4.7bn of total investment. These include medical research, new sustainable transport infrastructure and renewable energy schemes.

Background

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its member states. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

Overview of projects approved by the EIB Board

Overview of projects approved by the EIB Board of Directors following positive assessment by the EFSI Investment Committee

 

Brexit

'Time is very short' Britain says as EU's Barnier heads to London

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Britain said on Monday (26 October) that time was very short to bridge the significant remaining gaps on key issues in talks with the European Union, as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier heads to London to continue negotiations, write and

The United Kingdom left the European Union in January but the two sides are trying to clinch a deal that would govern nearly a trillion dollars in annual trade before a transition period of informal membership ends on 31 December.

After a brief hiatus when London walked away from the negotiating table, both sides are now meeting daily to try to find common ground.

At stake is the smooth flow of cross-border trade as well as the harder-to-quantify damage that a chaotic exit would do to areas such as security information sharing and research and development cooperation.

“There is much work to be done if we’re going to bridge what are the significant gaps that remain between our positions in the most difficult areas and time is very short,” Johnson’s spokesman said.

Barnier and his EU team will be in London until Wednesday, after which talks will switch to Brussels and continue through the weekend, an EU spokesperson said.

EU diplomats were not expected to be briefed on progress in the latest batch of talks until later in the week.

Johnson told reporters he was very glad to be talking with the EU again, but offered no new clues on the likelihood of a deal: “We’ll see where we go.”

Since talks restarted last week, British ministers have said real progress has been made and that there is a good chance of a deal. On Sunday, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said a deal to avoid tariffs and quotas was likely.

After some progress on competition guarantees including state aid rules, the hardest issue remains fishing - Johnson has insisted on taking back control over Britain’s waters while the EU wants access.

Although Britain insists it can prosper without a deal, British companies are facing a wall of bureaucracy that threatens chaos at the border if they want to sell into the world’s biggest trading bloc when life after Brexit begins on 1 January.

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EU

EU consumers should enjoy a 'right to repair' and enhanced product safety

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MEPs want to endorse a culture of reuse and repair to make consumers more aware of their environmental footprint ©Adobe Stock/Wichan_Shop

The Internal Market Committee has proposed a series of measures to strengthen consumer protection and enhance product safety and sustainability.

In a resolution on sustainable Single Market approved by 20 (2 voted against, 23 abstained), MEPs call on the Commission to grant consumers a “right to repair” by making repairs more appealing, systematic, and cost-efficient.

They also ask the Commission to consider labelling products and services according to their durability (e.g. a usage meter and clear information on the estimated lifespan of a product). This would support second-hand goods markets and promote more sustainable production practices. To reduce electronic waste, MEPs insist again on a common charger system.

To tackle planned obsolescence, restricting practices that intentionally shorten the lifetime of a product should be considered. According to MEPs, the corrective updates for certain digital devices must continue throughout their estimated lifespan and not diminish their performance.

According to Eurobarometer, 77% of EU citizens would rather repair their devices than replace them and 79% think that manufacturers should be required to make it easier to repair digital devices or replace their individual parts.

Adjustments needed everywhere: From advertising to waste management

MEPs also push for more sustainable public procurement as well as responsible marketing and advertising that encourages sustainable business and consumer choices. This should include clear guidelines for products that claim to be environmentally friendly, assisted by further ecolabel certification. For example, when green claims are made in advertisements, common criteria should be followed to support the claim.

In addition, the report proposes new rules for waste management, including the removal of legal obstacles that prevent repair, resale and reuse. This will also benefit the secondary raw material market.

Fight against unsafe products sold online

In another resolution on product safety in the Single Market, approved by 45 (no abstentions and votes against), MEPs addressed the issue of unsafe products – particularly those sold on online marketplaces. This includes products that contain dangerous chemicals, have unsafe software, or pose other safety hazards.

MEPs want online platforms and marketplaces to take proactive measures to tackle misleading practices and demand that EU rules on product safety should be enforced robustly. They emphasise that compliance with product safety rules must be ensured, for products circulating in the EU and manufactured either in the EU or outside it, allowing a fair competition between companies and securing reliable product information for consumers.

The resolution also addresses the safety and security of AI (e.g. supporting the development of effective checks on high-risk products embedded with AI), and calls for a revision of the current product safety legislation, such as the General Product Safety Directive and the Machinery Directive, to adapt it to the digitalization of products.

Next steps

The plenary vote for both reports is expected to take place in November.

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EU

Refugee camps on the Greek islands: Situation and challenges

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The situation on the Greek islands following the destruction of the Moria refugee camp was the focus of a debate in the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday afternoon (27 October).

MEPs quizzed representatives of the European Commission and the German Presidency of the Council about the situation on the temporary Kara Tepe site, which houses most of the 12,000 people left homeless by the fire in Moria. They will also look into the challenges faced by the Greek authorities regarding reception of migrants and asylum-seekers and processing of their asylum claims.

Recent revelations about Frontex staff and resources allegedly being involved in illegal pushbacks of asylum-seekers carried out by Greek border guards are also likely to be raised during the exchange of views.

Check the full agenda of the committee meeting. You can follow the discussion.

The humanitarian emergency in Lesvos after the fire in Moria and EU aid to the Greek authorities was discussed in a plenary debate with Commissioner Johansson on 17 September.

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