EIB annual meeting of the Board of Governors - Effective support for EU policies
- Jun 2, 2004
The Board of Governors of the EIB - the Finance Ministers of the EU Member States - today held its annual meeting with the first time participation of the ten Governors from the new Member States.
The EIB's President, Philippe Maystadt, summarised the Bank's activities in 2003 and financial reports. Total lending increased by 7% to EUR 42.3 billion (2002: EUR 39.6 billion) of which EUR 34.2 billion within the EU-15 and a record EUR 4.6 billion in the Acceding and Accession Countries. To finance its lending, the Bank raised EUR 42 billion on the international capital markets (2002: EUR 38 billion). (Full information on lending and borrowing activities is available on the EIB's website).
President Maystadt then reaffirmed the Bank's operational priorities as laid down in the Corporate Operational Plan. He also discussed the effectiveness of the Bank's contribution to EU policies and examined the issues of governance and transparency, to which the EIB is strongly committed.
Continuous drive to support EU policies
President Maystadt reported on the Bank's continuous drive to make its support for EU policies as effective as possible. Such effectiveness rests on three pillars: the specific contribution of projects financed to EU policies; the quality and soundness of each project; and the particular financial benefits obtained by the use of EIB funds. The President proposed to the Governors an original system whereby decision-making for each project will include a more precise assessment of the project's merits in terms of value added in relation to each of the three pillars. This system will be used for appraising projects as well as for the ex-post evaluation of projects financed.
Operational priorities 2004-2006
For the years 2004 to 2006, support for economic and social cohesion in the enlarged EU is the top priority. The target set is for at least two thirds of individual loans to be signed in favour of projects in assisted areas. Particular efforts will be made in the new Member States, where tight coordination with the Commission will be sought for co-financing projects with the Structural Funds.
The emphasis on implementation of the EU's Lisbon Strategy will be maintained. In the context of the European Action for Growth approved by the European Council in December 2003, the Bank has indicated its readiness to consider making available up to EUR 40 billion in new loans looking ahead to 2010. The Bank's action will primarily focus on Research and Development, Education and Training, as well as Information and Communications Technologies.
Alongside Innovation and R&D, the development of Trans-European Networks in transport and energy represents an important component of the European Action for Growth. In support of this initiative, the Bank's new TENs Investment Facility calls for a lending volume of EUR 50bn (EUR 25bn over the next three years alone) in favour of TEN projects in the years 2004 to 2010. Special attention will be paid to the "priority projects" identified as eligible for the so-called Quick Start approach.
Outside the European Union, the Bank will concentrate particularly on three areas.
- In the Balkans, the Bank will continue its close cooperation with the World Bank and the EBRD, in the framework of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe;
- In the Mediterranean, the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) was reinforced at the request of the European Council in December 2003. Mainly supporting private sector development, this reinforcement includes diversification of the range of financial products offered (a special facility for risk financing - the SFE - a trust fund and possibly lending in local currencies), and intensified dialogue with the Mediterranean Partner Countries on the necessary structural and policy reforms;
- In the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the Bank will deploy the new financial means available under the Cotonou Investment Facility to provide stronger support for the development of the private sector and poverty reduction. Also in the context of the Investment Facility, the EIB has made the necessary organisational and structural changes and commitments and approved the first set of projects. The pipeline of identified projects, to be submitted under the Investment Facility in future, is now substantial.
Corporate governance and transparency: continuous improvements
Against the background of a rapidly evolving financial, legal and political environment, as well as of the continued expansion of its activity, the Bank aims to maintain strong corporate governance.
As to internal control structures, initiatives taken in recent years testify to this strong commitment: inter alia, risk management structures have been strengthened, an additional Internal Control Framework has been implemented, formalised procedures have been put in place to ensure optimal co-operation with OLAF.
As to external control structures, the Bank is subject to close supervision: firstly that of its own auditing body, the Audit Committee, which pursuant to the Bank's Statute works as an independent, supervisory body appointed by and accountable to the Board of Governors and secondly, that of the European Court of Auditors for all operations where budgetary funds are involved, including those for which the Community guarantee is provided. Following the suggestions made by the European Parliament that the EIB submit to the scrutiny of external banking supervision, President Maystadt stated that the EIB is open to suggestions in this realm.
The Bank also continuously reviews its approach to transparency. It already publishes a great deal of information on its website and further proposals in this regard are under discussion within the Board of Directors.