European Investment Bank’s lending in the South exposed at the International Forum in Defence of Water in Mexico City.
Mexico City, March 18-20, 2006 – At the time of the World Water Forum (Mexico City 16-22 March) Non-Governmantal organsiations launched the Spanish version of the report ‘European Investment Bank in the South. In whose interest?’  and criticized the EIB – the EU house bank – for its current lending in the water sector.
Friends of the Earth International * CEE Bankwatch Network * Equipo Pueblo*
During the workshop organised by the Equipo Pueblo, CEE Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth International in collaboration with the International Rivers Network and Corporate Europe Observatory an overview of the EIB lending in the South in the last ten years and three specific case studies on water privatization projects in the Philippines, Indonesia and Argentina were presented.
Jaroslava Colajacomo, the author of the report summarises: ”Our report shows that there is lack of coherence between the EIB lending in Latin America, Asia and Africa and the EU goals on poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The majority of the EIB operations in the South are directed towards supporting big companies, often European, in projects on water privatisation, extractive industries or large dams. We also underline the lack of accountability towards civil society as well as towards EU institutions such as the European Parliament and the European Commission.”
Magda Stoczkiewicz, of CEE Bankwatch Network, said: “The EIB is currently a client-driven institution which readily finances projects where economic returns are guaranteed. It appears the EIB may become a sort of ‘European’ World Bank when operating in the South. If the EIB is to deliver on development the institution will have to change profoundly in the area of transparency, environmental, social and human rights standards.”
The report shows that EIB lending in Latin America went for over 90% to the European companies such as Repsol, Gas de France, Volkswagen, Vivendi, Suez or Agua de Barcelona. The two last companies are involved in the privatization of water utilities of the Cordoba city in Argentina, which the EIB helped to finance. Suez is also behind the water privatization in Manila (Philippines) and Jakarta (Indonesia), two cases presented in the report.
Longgena Ginting, of Friends of the Earth International, added: ”In the country I come from, Indonesia, the EIB has invested in water privatisation projects among other things. These kind of projects have done nothing to improve the quality of service, but they have brought increased water costs to Indonesia’s households.”
‘Even if the EIB does not finance water projects in Mexico – says Domitila Delaplace from the Mexican organisation Equipo Pueblo – the same problems and negative impacts occur in the bank’s financed projects in the country. For ex. the EIB gave a loan to the French company Gas the France for the extension and operation of the natural gas network in the Cuautitlan Texcoco valley. By placing this public service in the hands of a private operator the distribution of the gas was based on a criteria of economic profitability and access to gas to the poorest people of the area was not guaranteed.’
For more information contact: :
Jaroslava Colajacomo: , Ph in Mexico: +52 55 33 14 38 97 (Spanish, English, Italian)
Magda Stoczkiewicz, CEE Bankwatch Network: Ph. in Mexico: +52 55 29 95 15 91 (English, Polish)
Longgena Ginting Friends of the Earth International Ph. in Mexico +52 55 29 95 15 33 (English)
Domitila Delaplace, Equipo Pueblo ; Ph. in Mexico +52 55 18 65 00 63 (Spanish, French)
NOTES TO EDITORS
 The report includes case studies regarding mining in Zambia (by Peter Sinkamba of Citizens for a Better Environment, Zambia), the Chad-Cameroon Oil Project (by Korinna Horta, of Environmental Defense, USA), the Mexico Volkswagen Project (by Domitille Delaplace, of Equipo Pueblo, Mexico), the Mexi-gas Project (by Domitille Delaplace, of Equipo Pueblo, Mexico), the Veracel Pulp Mill in Brazil, (by Chris Lang, of World Rainforest Movement), water privatisation in Jakarta (by P. Raja Siregar of WALHI/ Friends of the Earth Indonesia), water privatisation in the Philipines (by Mae Buenaventura and Bubut D. Palattao, of Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines) and the Nam Theun II Dam in Laos (by Gary Lee of TERRA, Thailand).
The report in english is online at: www.foei.org/publications/pdfs/eibinthesouth.pdf or www.bankwatch.org/documents/eib_in_south_3.pdf
The report in spanish should be requested to Domitila Delaplace, Equipo Pueblo ; Ph. in Mexico +52 55 18 65 00 63 (Spanish, French)