More instead of better: NGOs concerned about European Investment Bank expansion without reform
Brussels, February 28, 2002 – Environmental NGOs are deeply concerned about the new Commission proposal to create a “Euro-Mediterranean Bank (EMB)” as an EIB (European Investment Bank) subsidiary.
Yesterday, the Commission adopted a Report to the Council proposing the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Bank (EMB) as an EIB subsidiary. The Commission says its proposal is consistent with the principles of ownership and partnership with the Mediterranean partner countries at the heart of Euro-Mediterranean policy – while at the same time ensuring a realistic and operational approach that can deliver results in terms of increased investment and growth as soon as possible.
Indeed, if the ultimate goal is to achieve increased investment in that region at the cost of environmental and social performance, the EIB is the right choice to be the leading party,” says Magda Stoczkiewicz, coordinator of the EIB: NO REFORM – NO MONEY! campaign. “It is worrying, however, that the Commission, bound by the EC Treaty and its provisions on sustainable development, is so uncritical of the EIB’s performance that it is even extending its mandate.”
On February 7, 2002, NGOs launched a new campaign entitled, EIB: NO REFORM – NO MONEY! linking the EIB’s request for capital increase with necessary reforms in the areas of:
- Public access to information;
- Environmental standards;
- Development mandate;
- Supervision by EU institutions.
NGOs claim that the EIB lags far behind its sister international financial institutions (such as the World Bank and the EBRD) in terms of its transparency, accountability and the ways in which it addresses environmental and social issues in its work.
EIB operations show a lack of professional accountability and oversight in managing projects. This is due largely to (1) the “rubber stamp” approval process of its organisational hierarchy, (2) its relatively small staff, who have no adequate environmental expertise (while this enables low-cost loans, it precludes professional environmental oversight), and (3) its increasing operations outside of the original EU charter, where it is largely exempt from the overall policy direction of the European Union.
As a comment to the Commission proposal, Stoczkiewicz adds, “For the EIB there is no incentive to change if it is constantly given new mandates and more money. For our common benefit, we must reform the Methuselah before we start feeding him even more!”
The EIB: NO REFORM – NO MONEY! campaign is coordinated jointly by the CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth International.
More information is available at www.bankwatch.org
For further information contact: Magda Stoczkiewicz, +31 20 622 13 69 magdas[at]foeeurope.org