Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia have become the first EU Member States to pledge contributions for the European Investment Bank’s Economic Resilience Initiative (ERI). The ERI is an investment programme that helps to tackle the migration challenge in Europe’s Southern Neighbourhood and the Western Balkans. Under the ERI, the EU bank is increasing financing in these two regions by EUR 6 billion during the 2016-2020 period mobilising additional investment of 15 billion. The ERI EIB financing comes on top of the EUR 7.5 billion already planned.

The contributions, announced today, will allow the EU bank to launch a special ERI Fund and step up investment in the private sector and key infrastructure in the two regions. These investments will unlock new opportunities for employment – particularly for women and young people. They will help to improve people’s daily life and the business environment not only in communities where many migrants come from, but also in host and transit communities. In so doing, the Economic Resilience Initiative will help to address the root causes of migration. The ERI is complementary to the EU’s recently agreed External Investment Plan.

Poland and Italy are the largest contributors, with EUR 50 and 45 million respectively. Luxembourg has pledged EUR 0.4 million, Slovakia EUR 2 million and Slovenia EUR 0.5 million.

EIB Vice President Dario Scannapieco, responsible for the Economic Resilience Initiative said:

“These contributions from Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia mark a milestone for the EIB’s Economic Resilience Initiative. They allow us to step up our efforts immediately as part of the Union’s joined-up response to the challenges posed by forced displacement and migration. Investments under the ERI are about creating hope and opportunity for refugees, migrants and local populations alike. The initiative is to help in shock-proofing these regions, for example from the impact of the Syrian Refugee crisis. We need to provide people in these countries with the prospect of jobs, basic services and sustainable development.”

He added, “The Economic Resilience Initiative was requested by all 28 member states of the European Union at the end of last year. With these 5 countries leading the way, we hope others will soon follow.”

By stimulating investment in the private sector and vital infrastructure, the Economic Resilience Initiative will create jobs and increase the provision of services like energy, transport, water, sanitation and education. Fundraising for the Economic Resilience Initiative is on track.

Thanks to the backing of donors like these five countries, the EIB can offer additional concessional finance, enhanced support to the private sector, impact finance, and technical assistance for these regions up to 2020. Discussions are underway with a number of other potential governmental and non-governmental donors.

ERI investment is progressing: Since its launch in late 2016, the European Investment Bank has approved 13 projects representing financing of some EUR 1 billion. Well over half of that went into private sector development. Lending through partner banks alone is set to benefit over 600 smaller businesses and midcaps, helping to sustain more than 40 000 jobs.