EIB President Nadia Calviño was the guest speaker of Forum Europa's "Ideas to Strengthen the Union," a series of events inviting key leaders of the European Institutions to analyse the future of Europe.

Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, introduced Nadia Calviño.

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Dear all,

It’s such a pleasure to cooperate once more with the Nueva Economia Forum and now the Forum Europa division. And, of course, it’s a great pleasure to be accompanied by Margaritis, Vice-President Schinas, dear Margaritis.

Indeed, we have lived through a number of intense and interesting situations in these meanders of European politics that you were referring to, Margaritis. And throughout these last intense years, I think that we have all learnt a clear lesson: We are stronger together. And working together, as Europeans, we are able to successfully face today’s challenges and whatever may come our way in the future.

It is especially important to have this in mind as we are approaching the run up to the European elections, so that we focus on what really matters and explain what the EU means for the security, the welfare and prosperity of citizens and businesses in all Member States.

This is a spoiler, but you will not be surprised to hear this is the leitmotiv of my presentation today. Nobody will be surprised. This is why I suggested Margaritis could do the introductory remarks. To show this is not so much about a specific approach or a specific ideology. You all know I am a very progressive person. I am also a feminist. But I am first and foremost here today a pro-European.

And it is a pleasure to be able to share on this very timely occasion some thoughts on current issues from the point of view of my new position as President of the European Investment Bank Group.

Taking first the global perspective, and then moving to Europe and finishing with the top strategic priorities of the EIB Group going forward.

1.  The EIB in the World

Starting with the state of the world. Last month we held the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank with a very striking headline: The economic situation is better than expected. The geopolitical situation is worse than expected.

Central banks, finance ministers and the global safety net seem to have been able to walk the narrow path and bring inflation down, whilst maintaining economic growth throughout the world…. But there are growing trade tensions and open conflicts -- I don’t need to remind all of us of what we are witnessing on a daily basis -- that are having a terrible impact on the state of the world.

And this just reflects that the tectonic plates on which the global order was based since the end of World War II that has served all of us very well and has obviously been a catalyst for progress in Europe -- these tectonic plates are shifting.

A new global order is in the making, and our decisions today will shape this new global order.

As a proud member of the Multilateral Development Institutions network, the European Investment Bank can obviously contribute to Europe´s priorities. And can also contribute to a better world.

This has been one of my priorities in the four months since I took this position: deepening cooperation with the European Commission to start with and with multilateral institutions, in order to leverage our actions, to expand our impact on the ground.

This means working very closely with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development when supporting Ukraine. This means working very closely with the UN Development Programme also to deliver projects on the ground. It means working with the World Bank to deliver indicators to facilitate risk assessment by public and private investors, working with the World Health Organization and private foundations to end polio in the world for good, or to make it possible to build vaccine production facilities in Africa. These are absolutely game-changing projects which must be based in deep cooperation with other multilateral institutions.

I wanted to mention these examples, because in today’s world when everyone is talking about security and defence and, you know, the dialogue is shifting so clearly, we should not forget that Europe has been a force for good in the world. And we need to cherish this role.

We need to support North-South dialogue. We need to continue to be a beacon of peace, prosperity, human rights, protection of minorities…Because this is exactly contributing to the objectives of security, welfare, prosperity inside the European Union. And we need to put our money where our mouth is. So the European Investment Bank will certainly continue to contribute to Europe being perceived as a force for good in the world.

2.  The EIB in Europe

This brings me to the second part of my remarks: Europe.

Looking back to what we have been through with the pandemic, the war, inflation… I really believe there is a lot of reason to be proud.

Europe responded in an efficient and effective manner to those challenges, following three key principles: unity, determination, solidarity.

One key example that offers us clear lessons is the response to the pandemic: the actions of the European Central Bank providing liquidity, the Commission supporting national short-term work schemes so that we could protect jobs and corporates throughout the pandemic, the EIB complementing national guarantees to support SMEs throughout the EU…. And then the Recovery and Resilience Facility launched a massive investment and reform programme that would allow us to avoid the lost decade of investment that so many countries suffered after the 2008 financial crisis.

This coordinated response explains the strong recovery since 2021 and explains the resilience today of the European economy and the labour market in the wake of so many challenges and tensions around us.

The European Investment Bank annual Investment Report estimates that around half of the expected increase in public investment between 2019 and 2025 is related to investment financed by the Recovery and Resilience Facility. Just to have a sense of how important this fast, agile response was, based on unity, determination and solidarity.

Obviously the European Investment Bank is a key partner in this endeavour: The Pan-European Guarantee Fund is a success story, with the many Member States with which we are cooperating in the deployment of the investments in the Recovery and Resilience Facility, including Spain by the way. I hope that in the coming weeks we will already have in place and active the new Resilience Fund to support strategic investments led by the regions in Spain, and obviously also playing a key role as implementer of mandates and guarantees coming from the EU budget.

These kinds of actions will be key to shape the voice of Europe in the new world order.

Technological innovation and leadership is undoubtedly one of the key drivers in the geopolitical field. The European Union has a strong basis on which to build. The European Union is a global trade powerhouse. The European Union is a technological leader in cleantech and health. And we need to preserve this position going forward.

The green transition is not only something nice to have, thinking about future generations. It is a top priority from the European perspective, thinking about competitiveness, strategic autonomy and security right now. Cleaner and cheaper energy sources will contribute to a more competitive Europe, and we need to reduce our dependence on global fossil fuel producers. This is something that should lead to a conclusion that we need to preserve our current leadership when it comes to the green transition.

We need to accompany the most affected sectors and regions. We need to invest in the breakthrough technologies that will lead to a net-zero economy. And we need to scale up existing methods, so as to make the green transition affordable, if we want it to be a European success. We also need to support the digitalization of our economies, in a manner that preserves our liberal economies and liberal democracies and is aligned with the European way of life that Margaritis has been defending for this past mandate, and this needs to translate into strong and cohesive societies, better health, better education, and better social infrastructure, too.

In the run up to the European elections, it is even more important to respond to the question: what has Europe done for us? What is Europe doing for me?

The European Investment Bank Group can provide many real-life examples of projects that can only materialize thanks to European funding and support.

In partnership with the European Commission, we are supporting:

  • In Germany, the development of alternative technologies to lithium to power electric vehicles.
  • In Sweden, we are building a circular battery giga factory outside China and helping produce steel with nearly zero emissions.
  • In Poland, we are financing technology to detect breast cancer.
  • In Belgium we are supporting innovative bone therapies.
  • In France, a chip factory.
  • The EIB is contributing to placing Spain as “the renewables country”.
  • In Italy, we are financing the largest solar panel factory in Europe.
  • And we are developing innovative financing to scale-up innovative startups and build European unicorns.

I have to tell you I am so proud to be at the helm of this institution that is really investing in projects that are changing the lives of citizens in Europe and that are changing the future perspectives of European companies going forward, translating European ideas, European dreams, expectations, and European policies into real projects on the ground.

Actually I am convinced that right now the European Investment Bank Group is already now investing in the breakthrough technologies that will ensure that we continue to grow strongly and have a more sustainable economy going forward. The same way that the European Investment Bank Group financed the research that enabled the development of the COVID vaccine here, in Europe.

Let me close with an outline of our top priorities going forward.

3.  The EIB strategic roadmap

Since taking over as President of the European Investment Bank in January, I engaged very actively with our shareholders, that’s the EU member states, and other key stakeholders to identify our priorities.

I recently met the Taoiseach in Ireland. In the coming weeks I will meet President Macron and Prime Ministers Tusk and Montenegro in Poland and Portugal.

What I see in all these meetings is a call on the European Investment Bank to play an important role in mobilizing private capital -- this catalysing facilitator role that, Margaritis, you just mentioned -- and supporting public investment. And I also see that there’s a very strong alignment between the priorities of our leaders and the projects that we are deploying within the Group.

What we have to do going forward is, we need to build on our strengths: a €600 billion balance-sheet, a very solid AAA based on a very solid portfolio, stechnical expertise unparalleled, and a track record of investment in major infrastructure, climate and innovation that is second to none. The ability to leverage capital and also to leverage the mandates from the EU budget to respond to our shared priorities. The ability to leverage the capital of the Group and, so, the contributions coming from the Member States.

On this basis, we need to deploy our full potential and maximize our impact, focusing on eight core priorities:

1.  Consolidate our role as The Climate Bank.

2.  Accelerating digitalization and technological innovation in Europe.

3.  Contributing to reinforce Europe´s security and defense industry.

4.  Supporting the agriculture, agrifood and bio-economy value chain.

5.  Boosting social and territorial cohesion. A very important priority of the Union, of the European Investment Bank, extremely critical when it comes to politics, too.

6.  Reinforcing social infrastructures. I’m talking about health and education. Also, I’m talking about housing, a top prioity in so many of our Member States.

7.  To focus our actions outside the EU on impact, aligning investments with political priorities.

8.  And finally, the eighth priority is for the EIB to contribute to the Capital Markets Union.

Those priorities are very much aligned to the agenda of European leaders on competitiveness, strategic autonomy and economic security…

And it is clear that economic success can certainly contribute to a strong voice of Europe in the new world and help us tackle geopolitical challenges.

Coming back to my first remarks about the state of the world from the economic and geopolitical point of view, the two are clearly interrelated and the European Investment Bank Group can actually contribute on the two sides of this equation. At the end of the day, these are all interrelated policies and objectives to ensure that the EU delivers on citizens’ expectations for peace, security, stability and prosperity.

So as to contribute to a better world and so that Europe remains the best place to live and thrive for future generations.

Let me close on this positive note. I’m very happy to take your questions.

Thank you!