- Activity volumes at an all-time high with EIB Group financing a shade above the €10 billion mark
- Almost half of the EIB’s investments dedicated to climate action
- One-quarter of the investments intended for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
2020 was a record year for the European Investment Bank Group in France with just over €10 billion in financing provided for investment in the public and private sectors. The breakdown of the EIB Group’s activity in France in 2020 is as follows: €8.9 billion from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and €1.2 billion from the European Investment Fund (EIF).
France is the second-highest beneficiary of EIB Group financing overall, after Italy. With the Juncker Plan (2015-2020) having reached completion, France confirms that it was the main beneficiary, with the lion’s share of the support going towards innovation and climate investment.
Climate action and innovation have been two key areas for the EIB Group’s operations in France over the past few years, particularly in 2020, alongside the urgent measures rolled out to help the private and public sectors mitigate the consequences of an unprecedented health crisis.
“As illustrated by the record volume of loans in 2020, the EIB Group has mobilised significant resources in France to support investment during this climate, economic and public health emergency,” said EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle during the presentation of the EIB Group’s annual results. “Investments in the climate and innovation formed the very core of these efforts because we are convinced that they will be key to driving a sustainable recovery. As the EU climate bank, it is our responsibility to support France in its ambitious climate goals, fully in keeping with the Paris Agreement.”
France, the main beneficiary of EIB climate finance
Nearly €4.3 billion in investment
48% of the EIB’s activity in France
With the Bank’s Climate Roadmap adopted unanimously by its board of directors (made up of representatives of the 27 EU Member States) on 13 November 2020, the EIB Group has taken a decisive step forward in its transformation into the EU climate bank.
As 48% of the loans it received are earmarked for climate action, France is the largest beneficiary of EIB climate finance. This has resulted in overall investment of almost €4.3 billion for energy efficiency, renewable energies and climate change mitigation.
The many iconic climate change initiatives funded by the EIB Group include an offshore wind project off the coast of Fécamp, which received €450 million from the EIB in 2020. This was the Bank’s first ever financing of a project of this kind in France and the programme is set to become the country’s largest offshore wind farm with a capacity of 497 MW.
The Bank financed a multitude of initiatives in the public sector to help local authorities and organisations move towards a lower-carbon economy, as demonstrated by its lending in the field of sustainable transport including funding for the H2 corridor project in the Occitanie region, regional trains and all-electric bus rapid transit (BRT) in Thionville. The EIB also supported the construction of more energy-efficient social housing with Banque des Territoires, Paris Habitat, Livie and IN’LI.
Innovative projects and partnerships
The Bank’s climate action focused on funding innovative projects to support companies’ business and competitiveness and therefore accelerate the development of new and greener technologies, such as the smart battery systems produced by Forsee Power, PSA’s electric motors or Vulog’s technology platform, which devises environmentally responsible mobility solutions.
To consolidate its response to the climate emergency, the Bank set up a number of innovative partnerships in 2020, including with France Hydrogène to ensure that promoters of hydrogen projects can have access to EIB financing solutions and expertise. A financial partnership worth €100 million was also signed with Banque des Territoires to launch a “Clean Buses” platform offering innovative funding for local and urban mobility authorities looking to green their bus fleets.
Increased support for businesses and all innovations
Innovation forms an essential part of all of the EIB Group’s activity in France. This was reflected in substantial levels of funding in 2020, accounting for a quarter of the Group’s investments: €2.2 billion for the EIB and €462.5 million for the EIF. The goal is to support the development and competitiveness of tomorrow's European champions, SMEs and microenterprises in the key sectors of the future, such as connectivity and digital technologies. This involves bringing internet coverage to hitherto unserved areas by working with major operators like Iliad and public initiative networks such as Megalis.
In 2020, the EIF financed particularly innovative SMEs through financial intermediaries such as Kiro via the Kurma Partners fund. A total of more than 52 000 companies received EIF support in France in 2020, representing an overall amount of €1.2 billion.
The EIB Group’s strong commitment to helping the private and public sectors deal with fallout from the pandemic
One-quarter of activity dedicated to the COVID-19 response
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EIB Group quickly rolled out a support plan with the Pan-European Guarantee Fund intended to underpin the European economy and help meet the most urgent financing needs of businesses and local authorities to mitigate the pandemic’s consequences. The EIB Group also adopted exceptional aid measures aimed at accelerating the approval and disbursement of new loans and providing greater flexibility for using existing loans and increasing their amounts.
The EIB signed six deals with French banks to assist French SMEs and mid-caps undermined by the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. These transactions came to €1.5 billion, and brought in total financing of over €3.3 billion for more than 25 000 French SMEs and mid-caps impacted by the pandemic. More broadly, all of the transactions with financial intermediaries signed by the EIB in 2020 will support around 68 000 SMEs and mid-caps.
The EIB stepped up its healthcare financing, supporting not only the innovations developed by companies and entities operating in this sector, but also the modernisation of infrastructure such as the Lens Hospital. As part of this drive, the EIB signed a partnership with Crédit Agricole to meet the financing needs of self-employed practitioners, particularly in areas suffering from a dearth of medical services. In the field of research, the EIB provided AB Science with €15 million in financing.
Appendix: Spotlight on 14 flagship projects financed by the EIB Group in France in 2020.