Nadia Calviño, president of the European Investment Bank, gave her remarks at a policy dialogue organised by the European Policy Centre and Real Instituto Elcano in Brussels on 7 June 2024.


>@Matthieu Miller/EIB

Dear colleagues, amigos, amigas, ladies, and gentlemen,

A warm welcome as well from my side, thank you all for coming – I am delighted to have a chance to come back to the European Policy Centre and the El Cano. It has been quite difficult to find a date where we could all be here. It so happens that we are meeting as so many citizens are going to the polls these days. We see that some countries have already started the voting process. It will be for most countries during the weekend. So I can only say that we did find the best possible date to hold these discussions, so congratulations to EPC and El Cano for being spot on on the issues to be discussed.

Like those of us here today, the people that are voting in the European Parliament election are coming from different countries, they hold different political beliefs and visions, and different concerns.

But I am deeply convinced that this diversity is not a sign of weakness, it is actually one of the main strengths of our European Union. And, come Monday, whatever happens in the elections we will still chart our future together in the spirit of unity, determination, and solidarity. These are the three principles that have guided our decisions in the last years and through the decades, and I think they have proved to be the key elements to our resilience.

That’s what gives me a lot of confidence that we all agree on the basic challenges, we agree on the basic priorities, and if we follow these principles we will be able to face those challenges in a successful manner. As I was saying, I am quite convinced that we all agree on the basis challenges, on the diagnosis, and in all the think-tank events that you are participating in and in all the different papers that are being produced I think the diagnosis is actually quite shared, quite common. The past five years since the previous European election have been certainly challenging: with the pandemic, geopolitical tensions, the rise of energy prices and inflation, the unfolding tech revolution – from electric cars to Artificial Intelligence – and the accelerating impact of climate change.

I am certain that most European citizens and leaders can agree on what we want to achieve in response to these challenges:

  • We all want to safeguard Europe’s prosperity, to make sure that our economies remain productive, competitive, and innovative.
  • We all want good jobs and high-quality services for our European people – from healthcare to education and housing. This is underpinning our European way of life. Citizens want to preserve the European way of life.
  • And I believe that almost all of us can agree that we want a safer Europe and a liveable planet, for ourselves and our children. This is the only way to secure our food supply and agricultural production, to protect our infrastructure, to build a better future. And this is also underpinning the European way of life.

Of course, the different parties and different candidates who want to represent us at the European institutions and they might have different views on how to achieve these goals. This is the essence of democracy, actually. Disagreement does not need to lead to division. 

My confidence in the path ahead and that we fact that we will continue to be united and forge a future together is grounded on two reasons:

First, opinions differ, but the facts don’t change. And if there is one fact that we learnt in the five years since the last European elections, it is that unity pays off.

Unity paid off when we joined forces in financing the development, the procurement, the purchase, and the distribution together of life-saving vaccines, providing solutions to ensure European recovery. And by the way a moment of advertisement for the EIB, we were financing the research of BioNTech that led to the development of the vaccine. The European Investment Bank has been a player in there.

Unity paid off when we pooled resources to stem the economic fallout from the pandemic with joint instruments, such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which provided a solid basis for our rebound, boosting investment and avoiding an investment gap such as the one we suffered after the great financial crisis in 2008, boosting investment all through the EU, boosting  reforms, and also the twin green and digital transitions, so that we could build back better.

Unity paid off when we showed determination in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and we saved our economies from blackouts, and we avoided the worst-case scenarios that most analysts expected. You know, with hindsight it’s easy to see that we did the right thing. That we have been driving the right policies and we have avoided the worst-case scenarios. But you are living and I certainly am living on a daily basis how so many people are seeing the worst-case scenarios as unavoidable, as certain. And this again was thanks to our common tools like the REPowerEU plan. Of course, the European Investment Bank, it goes without saying, has played a very important role in providing these solutions and supporting European policies, and supporting the European economy in these critical situations.

Our EIB Investment Report shows that European companies continue to show remarkable resilience to a series of overlapping crises and challenges, and it is precisely thanks to these well-designed and well-coordinated, well-implemented joint European tools.

Throughout these turbulent years, the European Investment Bank Group has shown that it is a powerful joint instrument to deliver on European priorities. Every day, as we speak, we are putting Europe’s capital to work, fostering innovation, productivity, security, and strategic autonomy. Since I joined the European Investment Bank, I’ve seen how we are supporting the production of steel made here in Europe, in Sweden, with almost zero emissions. In Italy, we are supporting the construction of Europe’s biggest solar panel manufacturing factory. In Poland, we are backing the deployment of dual-use satellites that will help keep our citizens safe. We are helping consolidate Spain as the “renewables country”. Just to mention a few, you know. In Bulgaria, we are supporting agriculture and SMES, likewise in Romania. Across Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to the Baltics, and from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, we are deploying new renewable energy capacity and upgrading electricity grids and interconnectors.

So, the second reason for my confidence comes from my own experience in government and now at the helm of the European Investment Bank over the last six months.

You see, our shareholders, the 27 Member States from different parts of the political spectrum, all of them agree that projects such as the ones I mentioned make a tangible difference for our citizens, businesses and for Europe’s future. They also agree that the European Investment Bank Group should play a key role, a strategic role in boosting growth, prosperity, technological and social progress in individual member states, across the whole EU and around the world.

And we don’t just agree on the past and the present, because in my tour of capitals I have seen how our shareholders welcome the clear list of strategic priorities that should guide the European Investment Bank Group going forward. I expect our shareholders to approve actually this strategic roadmap in the meeting on the 21 June, so a bit later this month.

Dialogue has forges consensus, and going forward our financial tools and resources will focus on the following eight areas that reflect in the Strategic Roadmap, the value added, the strong points of the EIB and also the priorities that the different ministers and prime ministers have been conveying to me in these last six months.

First, we will consolidate the EIB’s position as the climate bank. We are determined to meet the objective of supporting €1 trillion in green investment in the critical decade up to 2030. We will continue to commit at least half of our investments to climate action and sustainability. This is an area where we have a clear value-added and Europe has really no choice but to move ahead and make this a great success.

Second, we will accelerate Europe’s digitalisation and technological innovation, launching new financing instruments to boost investment in chips, Artificial Intelligence, in life sciences, in advanced materials, in critical raw materials, etc.

Third, we are already stepping up our support for Europe’s security and defence industry. We have already updated our lending framework and internal processes, with a one-stop-shop, a single window, a dedicated office with the goal of accelerating funding and reinforcing Europe’s peace and security, while safeguarding of course our financing capacity.

Fourth, we will remain a strong financing power for cohesion regions. Almost half of the EIB’s lending inside the EU is already being channelled to the cohesion regions—not only cohesion regions, but also regions in transition. And we are absolutely committed to the convergence of living standards and supporting those regions that need more than anything the support of Europe.

Moreover, we will also deploy innovative financing solutions for agriculture and the bioeconomy. European farmers can count on the support of the European Union. They can count on the support of the European Investment Bank to secure Europe’s food supply and autonomy and accompany them in becoming more efficient and making the green transition a success.

Our priorities also include social infrastructures, including healthcare, education and affordable housing. The experience of the past five years, from the pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis, in almost all Member States, this experience has demonstrated that these sectors need much more investment and tailored support.

Finally, in terms of our investment priorities, the European Investment Bank’s activities outside the EU will prioritise impact. Last year we invested around €88 billion, and 10% of this, around €8 billion, was invested outside the EU. I am making this point because many people maybe don’t know that we are also a proud and important member of the international multilateral development bank family. Of course, right now we need to start with Ukraine. Next week I will be in the Berlin conference to sign some agreements and accelerate the deployment of projects on the ground. Of course, the enlargement process is going to be a top priority for the next Commission and the next Parliament. Neighbourhood countries, Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood, Africa, our neighbouring continent, and Global Gateway projects and strategic alliances around the world, also: to ensure that Europe has a strong voice in this brave new world which is in the making.

Last, but not least, building on our strengths, and using the European Investment Bank’s resources, expertise, and our privileged position in capital markets, we will also reinforcement of the deepening of the capital markets union.

With a €600 billion balance sheet, a very robust portfolio, extremely low non-performing assets, the issuance of bonds with Europe’s signature and with a AAA rating – I sometimes make the joke, it’s only half joking, that we have a AAA because there’s no higher rating, but we have a very strong, a very solid AAA rating. I think the European Investment Bank is in itself a capital markets union instrument because it is bringing together, it is providing the bridge between public and private, between savings and investment on the ground throughout the whole EU, ensuring a level playing field for European companies. We, going forward, need to pioneer the deepening and enlargement of the capital markets union, bringing together public and private players of a European and national scope.

I believe these eight priorities contain the key elements that will in turn define European policymaking in the next institutional cycle, and I am convinced that we will also find the consensus to stay on track after these elections. 

I am really looking forward to engaging with our partners, with our stakeholders to put these priorities onto action in support of Europe’s policy goals.

Because I think that the turbulent five years that we have left behind since the last European elections show us that we need more Europe, not less. To protect the European Union as a privileged space of security, stability, and prosperity, a beacon to the rest of the world. To look after our communities and boost our young and innovative businesses. Because we face common challenges and the most effective way to confront them is to choose the path of solidarity.

As I said at the beginning of my remarks, unity pays off! So thank you and remember to use your vote.