EIB President Nadia Calviño's opening remarks to the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on the 2023 EIB Annual Report. 

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Merci, Monsieur le President. Merci beaucoup. It is a great honour and a pleasure for me to address this house for the first time as president of the European Investment Bank Group. I was recently in the European Parliament representing the Spanish presidency of the Council. And at that time, I already said how happy I was to see so many known faces, so many friends, so many colleagues and partners.

In the eight weeks since I took the job as president of the European Investment Bank Group, I have been engaging with the different stakeholders. I met President Metsola last week. Today we signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the communication to European citizens in the run up to the European elections and deepening our cooperation, in particular with the European Parliament. It will be one of my top priorities going forward. I’d like to wholeheartedly thank the rapporteur, Mr. Cormand and the shadow rapporteurs, for their excellent work. I think this resolution that you're voting today is extremely valuable and timely.

The European Investment Bank Group and the European Parliament can count on each other as strategic partners can, to ensure that we continue to support key European programmes that are of the essence if we want the bank to deploy its full potential in financing the investments that Europe needs — programmes such as InvestEU, the NDICI, yesterday’s approval of the Ukraine facility, the STEP programmes — all of these are key guarantees and support programmes from the European budget that allow the EIB to leverage, to mobilise private investment and to close the investment gap for the twin green and digital transitions.

Last week, I had the chance to address European finance ministers and exchange with them our key priorities going forward. My priorities were very strongly supported by them. The first of which is obviously to consolidate our role as Europe’s climate bank. Gearing up investment in adaptation, mitigation and the energy transition is the top priority for the European Investment Bank. And that has to do with the rollout of renewables, but also the manufacturing of net-zero technologies in the EU and financing new cutting-edge technologies. We will work on a new water programme to support countries at the forefront of the impact of climate change, and also on a programme to support SMEs in Europe, gearing up investments in new, energy efficient and economically profitable technologies.

Our second priority will be accelerating digitalisation and technological innovation. It is clear that cutting-edge technologies and putting Europe at the forefront of this technological race are of the essence going forward. And so we will support a new programme, a faster programme, a fund for the acceleration of strategic technologies and economic resilience. And this means net-zero technologies, but also chips, artificial intelligence, life science, advanced materials, critical raw materials.

Our third priority is stepping up investments in security and defence. It is quite clear that Europe needs to step up its capabilities in the security and defence industries. We are already investing in this area. For the past eight years, we have supported projects regarding R&D, new technologies, critical infrastructures, cyber security, space, dual-use technologies and equipment. This means investing in drones, border protection, city systems. I know these are key priorities to front line countries. The Strategic European Security Initiative was upgraded to €8 billion only last year. Only €2 billion have been invested so far. The European Investment Fund launched in January a new €175 million programme, the European Defence Equity Facility, to support SMEs and startups in this field. And we are ready to do more and better to contribute to joint projects that boost European industry and reinforce our capacity to protect and also our deterrence vis-a-vis third countries. I very much welcome the support that President von der Leyen gave here today to this approach.

Our fourth priority is contributing to our modern cohesion policy. This is in the EIB’s DNA. It is not only the right policy, it is also the smart thing to do if we want opportunities to be where talent is. Talent is equally distributed throughout the whole EU, but opportunities are not. We have a key role to play to ensure that climate, competitiveness, and cohesion are inseparable elements to ensure that the green transition is a European success.

Our fifth priority is developing innovative financing for agriculture and the bioeconomy, possibly exploring gearing-up insurance and de-risking schemes for this key area of the European economy.

Our sixth priority going forward would be gearing up investment in social infrastructure, and this includes education, skills, of course health and affordable housing. These are key infrastructures, and we want inclusive growth, sustainable growth, and also increasing Europe's growth potential.

The seventh priority is pioneering the capital markets union. The European Investment Bank Group can pull together other financial institutions to build the building blocks of a true, deep and broad capital markets union, pioneering European-wide financial instruments to that effect.

And last but not least, we need to focus our activity outside the EU on our strategic priorities. Support for Ukraine is obviously a top priority. The recent adoption of the Ukraine facility, the EU4U facility, is extremely helpful. Together with the EBRD, and other key financial players and national governments, we want to continue to support Ukraine now and to contribute to its rebuilding.

Once the war is over, as soon as possible, I hope. Then a successful enlargement process, support to our neighbourhood, focusing on actions in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and in supporting the Global Gateway initiative. These will be our top priorities going forward to reinforce Europe's voice in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, to sum up, the European Investment Bank Group, the financing arm of the EU, is investing in Europe’s future. It is investing in our shared future. These priorities are closely interlinked. They’re targeting key challenges. They’re fully aligned with European policies. They’re fully aligned with the priorities that have been flagged by the European Parliament, and that are summed up in the statement and the report that will be voted today, and aim at closing the investment gap related to the twin green and digital transitions, strengthening Europe's cohesion and competitiveness, our strategic autonomy, our security and resilience. And I am really looking forward to working closely with the European Parliament and the European Commission going forward to further strengthen our ability to respond to citizens’ expectations.

Thank you very much.