The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) currently has four members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. EFTA is the EU’s third-largest trading partner and the four EFTA nations are widely known for their developed economies, as well as their geographic, political or cultural proximity to the European Union.
The EIB in action
The Bank has been supporting projects in the four countries since the establishment of the EIB’s EFTA Loan Facility in 1994. Projects in which the EIB is involved are financed from the Bank’s own resources. They must meet the same eligibility criteria and follow the same procedures as operations within the European Union. Our role in the EFTA regions is to support climate action, urban transport, infrastructure and technology.
The EFTA Facility is not subdivided into pro rata totals for each country. As of May 2020, 53 new projects had been signed under the EFTA Facility. Our investment amounted to approximately €4.1 billion, of which about €4 billion has already been disbursed. We are also considering financing new projects by the end of 2021. Our additional financing, amounting to €1 billion, would mobilise a total of €5.1 billion of investment.
Most planned projects are located in Norway, which is by far the largest contributor to upcoming operations under the Facility. All future projects contribute directly to the Bank’s primary lending objectives (76% of the upcoming projects contribute to the Bank’s climate targets). With 51% of signatures, Norway is the Bank’s biggest EFTA market, followed by Iceland with 23% of signatures.
In Norway, operations that advance clean urban transport and sustainable mobility help tackle climate change and meet climate action targets. A substantial part of lending activities in Norway includes the NordLink interconnector, which will connect Norway and Germany across the North Sea, a major step towards a more climate friendly and integrated energy system.
In Iceland, the EIB supports projects related to green energy. We have helped Landsvirkjun, the National Power Company of Iceland, to finance a new geothermal power station and Reykjavik Energy Geothermal to expand two geothermal power plants. We have also signed projects to support medical technology and infrastructure, helping support the Icelandic economy as well as safeguard employment during the COVID-19 crisis.
In Switzerland, the latest envisaged operation are aimed at supporting various investments and Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) expenditure to reduce carbon footprint. The Bank also maintains contacts with various potential partners, in particular with innovative corporations that could qualify for the InnovFin initiative.