European Investment Bank urged to make the most of transparency review
Luxembourg/Brussels (Belgium) — The Governors of the European Investment Bank (EIB), gathering today in Luxembourg for the EIB’s annual meeting, were invited to visit the first ever street exhibition of posters on the EIB entitled: “EIB: Public Funds for Public Benefit”, part of civil society’s ongoing initiative to transform the EIB into an institution that supports people and the environment in a transparent manner.
7 June 2005
CEE Bankwatch Network
Friends of the Earth International
Global Transparency Initiative
Last week the Governors also received an NGO proposal on Principles and Standards of Information Disclosure for the EIB  signed by more than 100 groups from all over the world.
The EIB is a financial institution of the European Union – it finances a wide-ranging investment portfolio which has significant impact on people’s lives and the environment in and beyond Europe . It should be subject to European legislation but in fact it acts as an independent bank accountable only to its shareholders, the governments of the 25 EU member states.
Operating with public money the EIB still remains a very non- transparent institution . Hiding behind an undefined “commercial confidentiality” clause, the EIB refuses to provide affected people and communities with vital project-related information. It steadfastly avoids making a clear commitment to the timely disclosure of crucial information.
“This has to change,” said Magda Stoczkiewicz, leading the EIB reform campaign for CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth International. “We believe that access to information is a justified right of every citizen, as well as a prerequisite for the accountability and good governance necessary in a publicly owned institution. Non-transparent behaviour from European institutions such as the EIB is among the reasons for EU citizens deciding to turn their backs on the European Union.”
On May 19 this year, the EIB announced the forthcoming revision of its Information Disclosure Policy. In a very welcome step, it is set to involve the EIB s first ever public consultation as part of a policy review. Yet, currently, the draft policy which has been released does not improve the existing situation on access to documents, but in fact by adding more constraints to information disclosure the draft is a regressive step in many respects.
Toby Mendel from ARTICLE 19, a member of the Global Transparency Initiative, commented: “The EIB needs to base its information policy on a presumption of disclosure rather than a broad set of reasons justifying the non-disclosure of information. Unless it does so, it cannot hope to meet accepted European standards, as well as the transparency standards now being accepted by other international financial institutions.”
For more information, contact:
Magda Stoczkiewicz, mobile: +32 475 86 76 37
Toby Mendel, tel: +1 902 431-3688
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. The call to the EIB Governors can be viewed at: www.bankwatch.org/publications/policy_letters/2005/eib_transpar ency _06-05.pdf
2. See the comparative study on transparency in international financial institutions by the Bank Information Center and freedominfo.org ( www.ifitransparencyresource.org/en/Institutions.aspx )
Supported by: “Mouvement Ecologique” Friends of the Earth Luxembourg