* Admissibility date reflects the date the case was officially registered. All other dates pertain to the date in which a stage was completed.
In November 2015, the European Investment Bank Complaints Mechanism (EIB-CM) received a complaint concerning the D4 Highway and R7 Expressway PPP project. Objections were raised against the decision of the EIB to finance the project.
The allegations concern the promoter’s actions during the planning and preparation of the project. The allegations challenged the environmental and social impact as well as the public procurement and governance aspects of the project:
(i) The complaint points out that the Ministry only organised one public procurement tender for the Feasibility Study of the project, with only one bidder.
(ii) The complaint challenges the EIB’s due diligence during the economic appraisal of the project contending that (i) the PPP model used for the project constitutes an inefficient use of public financial resources, and (ii) the promoter did not study alternative project financing models.
(iii) The complaint refers to the promoter’s failure to provide access to information during the preparation of the project.
(iv) The complaint alleges that the EIB failed to verify that the promoter studied alternative transport modalities to the D4 highway and R7 expressway, for example more effective utilisation of the public transport system.
(v) The complaint states that the EIB failed to analyse alternative road alignments.
The EIB-CM carried out a desk review of the available information and held meetings with the EIB Services. A fact-finding mission was held in October 2016 to facilitate meetings with the complainants and the promoter. The EIB-CM also met the Representation of the European Commission to Slovakia to keep them informed of the work of the EIB-CM and the preliminary discussions with the parties. Moreover, a group of consultants was hired to perform an independent review of the technical and policy background of the complaint.
The EIB-CM had launched an initial assessment of the case. However, during the course of the investigation, it has been able to reach conclusions on the allegations. The EIB-CM has, therefore, drafted a conclusions report where the main findings and conclusions are presented.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The EIB-CM has concluded that the first allegation was inadmissible whilst the second and fifth were not grounded. Concerning the third allegation, the EIB-CM concluded that the EIB complied with its due diligence concerning the appraisal of the project.
The EIB-CM found that the fourth allegation was not grounded as the project had fulfilled the eligibility criteria for projects categorised as “roads” under the EIB Transport Lending Policy, which did not require carrying out an analysis of inter-modality at project level. Nevertheless, as some documents concerning inter-modality were still developing at regional level at the time of the EIB appraisal, the EIB-CM recommends the EIB to follow up these issues as part of its engagement at country level with government counterparts and local actors in the Slovak Republic.