The EIB’s Board of Directors and several Management Committee members had the pleasure to meet representatives of civil society to discuss the bank’s progress and challenges on Monday 3 February. A review of the year and a look ahead led by EIB staff was discussed in a plenary debate, where the focus was the role of civil society and the EIB in a changing Europe and world. The views of 52 participants from 47 organisations were articulated at this meeting held at our Luxembourg HQ. This event was the third of its kind, building upon the previous Board Seminars with civil society held in October 2011 and February 2013.
The civil society groups represented a variety of interests ranging from the need for partnering to meet local and global expectations, to the challenges of developing finance and fighting climate change. In fact, they represented a good mix of civil society organisations with many diverse interests, from international and local NGOs, to think tanks, industry associations, trade unions and representatives of international and European institutions. They heard senior management describe how the EIB is working to achieve sustainable jobs and growth in Europe, with a stress on climate action and inclusive growth and development.
The event demonstrated as always the importance of the input and constructive criticism from civil society organisations to the EIB and its activities. Throughout the discussions, a number of key issues emerged as being in the participants’ centre of interest. At a general level, the Bank was asked to play a larger political role, partner with others and to lead by example on international and European debates about global issues such as fighting climate change and promoting human rights. The Bank was also asked to review its NCJ Policy and to take tax justice into account while a strong interest was signalled by Civil Society to engage in a consultation process on our Climate Action Review.
Moreover, the EIB Board members, staff and civil society participants who took part in the discussions were all convinced that this type of engagement helps all parties achieve better mutual understanding. As a result, action points and commitments arising from the seminar included the continuous engagement with civil society at all levels of the Bank, a review in 2014 of the EIB’s Emission Performance Standard, a public consultation on the revision of the Bank’s Transparency Policy in 2014 and a session on blending and other mechanisms on which the EIB works with the European Commission at the next Seminar, which will be held in 2015.