One of the icons of France, one of the great stone images of beauty and history, was extensively damaged by fire on Monday.
There goes a piece of all of us Europeans, French or whatever nationality, Christians – Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox – and those of other beliefs. There goes a piece of what keeps us as Europeans together.
Most of you have seen the horrible photos and videos of the fires shooting out the roof, the billowing smoke turning the Parisian sky grey, the spire collapsing and people on the streets weeping. The tragedy touches all of us because Notre-Dame Cathedral is a landmark not just for Paris and a proud nation, but for Europe and – indeed – the world.
It is not yet clear what caused the fire or how much of Notre-Dame can be rebuilt. One firefighter has suffered serious injuries. Thanks to his efforts and the courage and endurance of some of the finest firefighters in the world, the two famous belfries and the main stone structure of the cathedral could be saved. It is a huge relief to hear that the most important religious relics, among them the Holy Crown of Thorns and the Tunic of Saint Louis, are safe as well. But many artworks are irrecoverably lost and most of the roof is destroyed.
Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, this jewel of medieval architecture is not just a monument of beauty and place of prayer, but a meaningful gathering place for many thousands of people every day from all corners of the globe. It is a work of art and one of the great symbols of Paris, France and Europe. A testimony to the common purpose of the thousands who built it, it has endured for centuries and holds a special place in the history and hearts of Europeans.
We stand by France in mourning this tragedy in the heart of its capital city. We support the defiance shown by President Emmanuel Macron, who has immediately vowed that France will rebuild the cathedral in an effort reaching beyond national borders. If there is anything the Bank can do to help this proud city and country recover, we offer our help and our services with open arms.
During his keynote address at PRI in Person, held in Paris on 11 September, President Hoyer presented the European Investment Bank’s commitments for climate action and environmental sustainability. He also pointed the key role the EIB can play with regard to redirecting private finance towards sustainable investments.
In recent weeks, the debate has escalated in France: Europe must commit to combating climate change and the best way to do this would be to create a climate bank. This proposal is supported ardently and with conviction by two men in particular: the climatologist Jean Jouzel and the economist Pierre Larrouturou, co-authors of the book “Finance, Climat : Réveillez-vous !” (“Climate: Wake Up!”).
The EIB invested an unprecedented EUR 1.37bn in France between 12 and 16 May. Projects supported include the refurbishment of schools, investment in France’s SMEs, a motorway and sustainable public transport initiatives. These will all contribute to employment, social cohesion and economic development for the future.