European house bank escapes parliamentary scrutiny
BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) – A critical report on the European Investment Bank (EIB) was completely watered down today during its second reading in the Economic and Monetary Committee (EMAC) of the European Parliament. The report from MEP Monica Ridruejo addressed key issues such as good governance, transparency and accountability at the EIB, the EU’s house bank. At the end of the meeting Ridruejo voted against her own radically altered report and in a strong final statement  she withdrew her name from it.
Five members of EMAC tabled 125 amendments. The amendments asked for the complete deletion of 14 of the report’s 32 paragraphs. Leading the way, MEP Robert Goebbels (PSE, Luxembourg) wanted to delete 28 out of 32 paragraphs. MEP Olle Schmidt (Liberals, Sweden) who during today’s session claimed he is for transparency, asked for deletion of roughly half of all the paragraphs including those asking for more transparency on the EIB and its management.
“It is extremely alarming that the European Parliament has voted against all of the recommendations calling on the EU house bank to live up to international governance and transparency standards,” said Magda Stoczkiewicz, leading the EIB reform campaign for CEE Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth International. “Important paragraphs requiring the EIB to adopt internationally accepted rules on good corporate governance or to publicly disclose salaries, allowances and other earnings of its Board of Directors and senior managers were not acceptable to EMAC members.”
This morning’s meeting was very short and did not allow real discussion. The tense atmosphere was not helped by EMAC chairwoman Ms. Randzio-Plath accusing Ms. Ridruejo of offending other members of the committee. While claiming that it was not Ridruejo but other members of EMAC who introduced the issue of governance and transparency into EMAC’s discussions, Ms. Plath led a vote which ensured that none of the original report recommendations on transparency and good governance survived in the final version.
Martin Koehler, from the Italian Campaign to Reform the World Bank, commented, “What MEP Ridruejo demanded of the EIB could have been drawn from a corporate handbook. No shareholder in a private company would object to such demands, and no corporation would do less in order to make its shareholders remain confident. It is hard to understand why European Parliamentarians should object to such demands. Are they afraid of the EIB? If so, we need many more critical reports on this shadowy organisation.”
Magda Stoczkiewicz concluded, “Giving the EIB operational carte blanche is unacceptable and casts a shadow on this departing Parliament.”
Magda Stoczkiewicz, CEE Bankwatch Network/Friends of the Earth International
Mobile +31 652 41 03 23
Martin Koehler, Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale
Mobile in Brussels: +32 478 309894
Mobile in Italy: +39 333 5920415
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
 Final Statement of Monica Ridruejo:
REPORT on the Activity of the European Investment Bank,EMAC COMMITTEE, April 6, 2004.
Based on Art 161 of the EP Rules, I want to say that:
“The Report, as amended, fundamentally alters my Draft. Based on information available, changes introduced are unfounded.
An MEP limited amendments to the transmission of EIB arguments to cover up its defficiencies. Other MEPs seem not to conceive that EMAC can exercise a real control over the EIB.
No data suggests my Draft is inaccurate. None contradicts Draft denunciations on EIB´s serious management, transparency and accountability defficiencies. None suggest improvements to recommendations proposed, to correct them. In fact, there has been no debate on its content. Most amendments are based on the idea that the priority is to keep a friendly dialogue with EIB, even if at the cost of permitting EIB to keep using the fiction of parliamentary control as guarantor of its practices.
I believe MEPs must promote the construction of a solid, efficient and transparent Europe, defending citizens´ interests, without bending to lobby pressure. Having information on irregularities and not denouncing them makes one an accomplice. Detecting issues needing substantial improvement, without recommending clear actions to correct them, is not fulfilling EMAC objectives and undermining European citizens´confidence in the Parliament. I do not want to appear as accomplice of this attitude. I withdraw my name from this Report.”
MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT.
More information on the EIB campaign and EMAC report is available at www.bankwatch.org