First EIB lending under EFSI welcomed by Europe’s finance ministers
European finance ministers today highlighted the importance of the new European Fund for Strategic Investments to supporting economic growth, job creation and stimulating recovery across Europe. The ministers, meeting as the Governors of the European Investment Bank, welcomed the first lending by Europe’s long-term lending institution under the initiative and noted the EIB’s clear commitment to EFSI demonstrated since it was first conceived.
Use of the EFSI guarantee, if ratified by the European Parliament, is expected to allow the EIB Group to support additional investment in infrastructure, innovation, and improve access to finance for SMEs alongside other sources of finance. The new initiative is expected to mobilise EUR 315 billion of new investment, mostly from the private sector, over three years.
“The EU Bank started rolling out the Investment Plan for Europe in April, four months after President Juncker and I launched the initiative before the European Parliament. After delivering on the targets of the 2012 capital increase last March, 9 months before schedule, our focus has been on responding to pressures for an early start on identifying projects earmarked for backing under the EU budget guarantee provided by the European Fund for Strategic Investments even before its formal adoption. Once again the EIB delivered: in the past three months we have approved support for 10 projects which should benefit from the EU guarantee once EFSI is operational” said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank.
The ministers unanimously elected Dr. Hans-Jörg Schelling, Austrian Finance Minister, as the new Chairman of the European Investment Bank’s Board of Governors. He replaces Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem following completion of his 12 month tenure.
“The European Investment Bank makes a crucial contribution to supporting long-term investment across Europe and beyond. As Chairman of the EIB’s Board of Governors I look forward to working with other shareholders and EIB colleagues to ensure that the EIB can continue to make a difference, including unlocking new investment and private sector support through the EFSI initiative. The EIB can be congratulated for hard work that has allowed EFSI to be operational and the first projects to be financed under the new initiative, in parallel to parliamentary approval.” said Dr. Hans-Jörg Schelling, Austrian Finance Minister.
The Board of Governors also approved the EIB’s accounts for 2014, during which the EIB lent EUR 77 billion to support investment across Europe and around the world. The EIB is the world’s largest multilateral lending institution and largest supranational issuer of bonds on global capital markets.
Europe’s finance ministers recognised the European Investment Bank’s considerable efforts to support new investment in response to the economic crisis and congratulated EIB staff for additional lending since EUR 10 billion capital increase by shareholders in 2013 that has helped to mobilise more than EUR 180 billion of total investment. Ministers further welcomed that the first projects already earmarked for support under EFSI had exceeded expectations about the new initiative's ability to encourage increased private investment.
The meeting took place a day after the European Investment Bank’s Board of Directors agreed more than EUR 10 billion of EIB financing for new projects, including social housing, industrial innovation, urban transport and energy security projects.
Less than a week ago a EUR 275 million loan, including EUR 75 million earmarked to benefit from the EFSI guarantee, for construction of a new EUR 1.2 billion new energy efficient pulp mill at Äänekoski in Finland was signed. This represents one of first examples of EIB financing earmarked for support under the EFSI guarantee. The European Investment Fund has also started supporting improved access to finance by SME’s in France, Germany and Italy through operations signed in recent weeks.
Following the Board of Director’s approval long-term financing is expected to be agreed in the coming months for new strategic infrastructure investment in Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Austria, Italy and Slovenia. Representatives of the EIB’s 28 shareholders and the European Commission also agreed significant new support for social housing investment in the UK, the Netherlands and Poland and improving schools and healthcare in France and Finland.
New EIB lending earmarked for support from under the European Fund for Strategic Investments guarantee also approved by the Board of Directors included corporate innovation in clean energy and environmental technologies in Spain.
Over recent months the EIB has undertaken technical and financial due diligence for projects expected to be supported under the EFSI initiative, as well as financing of projects from the bank’s own balance sheet, called for by the European Council. This is taking place alongside ratification of the proposed guarantee structure and confirmation of use of the EU budget for the new initiative by the European Parliament and Council. Once final loan details are concluded the EIB Group is committed to supporting projects earmarked for financing under EFSI on its balance sheet even if the EU guarantee should be found not to apply.
All projects, including those earmarked for support under the EFSI guarantee, need to receive approval of the EIB board prior to loan contracts being finalised.