• In 2021, the EIB Group stepped up its activities, providing record financing of €13.5 billion in Italy, helping to unlock investments worth €76.3 billion, the equivalent of 4.3% of Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  • More than half of EIB Group loans, €6.86 billion, went to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • The European Guarantee Fund (EGF), an integral part of the €540 billion package of recovery measures approved by the European Union to counter the economic difficulties and productive slowdowns caused by the pandemic, will trigger investments in Italy amounting to €36.7 billion.

The EIB Group, consisting of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF), today presented the results of its activity in Italy in 2021. Last year, the EIB Group signed 122 operations totalling €13.5 billion in Italy, an increase of 13.5% compared to 2020. Italy benefited from 15.6% of the Group’s total activity in 2021. It is estimated that this will help unlock investments of more than €76.3 billion in the real economy, an increase of 135% compared to the previous year, the equivalent of 4.3% of Italy’s GDP.

Speaking at the EIB Group’s annual press conference in Milan, EIB Vice-President Gelsomina Vigliotti said: “In 2021, the EIB Group strengthened its countercyclical role, working with a broad network of financial intermediaries and developing innovative products to better meet the needs of businesses in the manufacturing and financial sectors. Thanks to the leverage effect of the EIB Group’s activity, the €13.5 billion of new finance dedicated to Italy in 2021 will trigger investments of more than €76 billion, the equivalent of 4.3% of Italy's GDP, a record figure promoting solid economic recovery in Italy and Europe. A total of 122 operations supported during the second year of the pandemic backed both the public and private sectors, fostering the economic development of Italian SMEs to safeguard and create new jobs and boost innovation and digitalisation, which are key pillars of the Green Deal and Italy’s Recovery and Resilience Facility Complementary Fund. The EIB is placing greater emphasis on climate and environmental sustainability and, in 2021, 30% of total resources in Italy were dedicated to combating climate change.

Support for Italian SMEs

The pandemic has continued to highlight the need to support SMEs, which account for a substantial share of the productive fabric and employment levels in Italy. In 2021, the EIB Group supported the liquidity needs of some 53 800 Italian companies to the tune of €6.86 billion, 51% of the EIB Group’s total activity in Italy.

EIB Group’s response to the pandemic — the European Guarantee Fund (EGF)

The EGF, an integral part of the €540 billion EU aid package agreed in 2020 to counter the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, was an essential tool to support the economic recovery in Italy, which was the largest beneficiary of EGF funds, with 37 operations signed amounting to €3 billion. These operations are expected to trigger investments of more than €36.7 billion benefiting businesses affected by the pandemic, mainly SMEs.

Climate and environmental sustainability

Combating climate change remains the biggest challenge of this century and one of the EIB’s main priorities as the climate bank. In 2021, the EIB dedicated 30% of its resources in Italy to combating climate change.  With these funds, the EIB contributes to the development of renewable energy, modernisation of electricity grids, the energy efficiency of buildings, construction of recycling facilities and the development of sustainable mobility. 

Innovation, digitalisation and human capital

The EIB Group continued to promote innovation and digital transformation as key pillars for the competitiveness and future of Italian businesses. Funding for innovation, digitalisation and human development, key areas to promote the digital and environmental transition, amounted to €3.062 billion in Italy in 2021.

Overall results — EIB Group

For the second year in a row, the EIB Group devoted most of its resources to combating the COVID-19 crisis, maintaining, and even increasing, financing for green projects. The EIB Group worked with its partners in Europe and globally in 2021 to achieve total lending volumes of €95 billion, an increase of 23% compared to 2020 (€77 billion). The European Investment Bank financed projects via loans worth more than €65 billion, while the European Investment Fund provided over €30 billion in guarantees and equity participations.

Financing operations reached the highest level in the 63 years of the EIB’s existence thanks to the European Guarantee Fund, set up at the end of 2020 by the EIB Group and 22 Member States. Since December 2020, the EIB Group has approved financing worth €23.2 billion under the EGF, i.e. 401 individual operations in all 22 participating countries. It is estimated that these operations will unlock investments worth €174.4 billion.

At the same time, the EIB increased its share of investments in projects contributing to climate action and environmental sustainability, which accounted for 43% of investments in 2021 (40% in 2020) notwithstanding the COVID-19 crisis, bringing the EIB closer to its 50% target. 

Outside the European Union, the EIB Group disbursed €8.1 billion in 2021. The EU bank is active in more than 160 countries and is a key partner of Team Europe, contributing to the COVAX initiative which provides vaccines to developing countries. In line with the European Union’s growing presence and increased volume of initiatives globally, the EIB has decided to reorganise its activities outside the Union and establish an operating network dedicated to international partners and development financing called “EIB Global”. This will combine the EIB’s resources and competencies outside the European Union in a structured unit contributing decisively to the projects and initiatives of Team Europe.

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB) finances projects in four priority areas: infrastructure, innovation, climate and environment, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Between 2019 and 2021, the EIB Group provided more than €36 billion in financing for projects in Italy.

The European Guarantee Fund (EGF) was created by the EIB Group (EIB and EIF) with contributions from Italy and other EU Member States to protect businesses that are struggling in the crisis caused by COVID-19. With almost €25 billion in guarantees, the EGF allows the EIB and EIF to swiftly offer companies, mostly SMEs and mid-caps, access to loans, guarantees, securities and other financial instruments. The EGF forms part of the package of recovery measures put in place by the European Union, with the objective of providing a total of €540 billion to support the hardest hit sectors of the EU economy.