President Hoyer at Davos ©EIB

By the end of the week temperatures in Davos had plummeted to a toe-numbing minus 14 centigrade. President Trump and PM May had cancelled their visits. Brexit, the US shutdown and an increasingly anti-democratic tendency in some unexpected parts of the world added to the chill at the World Economic Forum gathering. But one clear melody line rang out. As EIB President Werner Hoyer put it to La Stampa newspaper, “This is the time to defend multilateralism and not let the world drift apart. This message has been expressed very loudly here in Davos.”

The EU bank has been very visible this week at what they call the “wef”. And that’s not just the sight of Vice-President Alex Stubb’s unmissably bright tangerine orange galoshes striding down the icy Davos promenade.

President Hoyer and former Finnish PM Stubb have been engaging in high level policy sessions, live TV debates and crucial bilateral discussions with political and business leaders on topics that ranged from climate action, global infrastructure, the circular economy, digitalisation, Europe and Africa and the challenge of artificial intelligence - not to mention Brexit and the threat of populism.

Both have found that the concerns this year at Davos and the search for solutions resonate entirely with the EIB’s own priorities and direction of travel. Indeed, on the first day of the forum the EIB’s work on the circular economy was celebrated at the Circulars awards ceremony.

President Hoyer said, “I sensed a real recognition and openness from the participants of the WEF this year to our ideas. The international community needs solutions and – as the EU Bank - we have a duty to bring solutions to the table. This applies to a range of major discussions here: Mobilising finance for tackling climate change (high upon the Davos ‘worry list’); making infrastructure an asset class in its own right; the huge and pressing need to invest in innovation and skills, and the shifting approach in development from aid to investment, from donor/recipient to partnership. It also includes the importance of SDG bonds where we are leading the charge, and the crucial need to clean up our oceans and promote the circular economy.”

He added “We face unprecedented global challenges and no one can succeed alone. No one. The bigger the challenge the more important it is to work together. We must ignore and eventually silence the sirens that say the contrary.”

EIB at Davos in the media