Published in February 2008, this publication is available free of charge from 1st February 2013.
The history of the European Investment Bank cannot be dissociated from that of the European project itself or from the stages in its implementation. First broached during the inter-war period, the idea of an institution for the financing of major infrastructure in Europe resurfaced in 1949 at the time of reconstruction and the Marshall Plan, when Maurice Petsche proposed the creation of a European investment bank to the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation.
The creation of the Bank was finalised during the negotiations which preceded the signing of the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community. As well as contributing to the financing of projects of common interest, it also met the concerns of those who feared that the common market would accentuate imbalances in regional development or hasten the decline of certain industries. The Bank would thus mobilise capital to promote the cohesion of the European area and modernise the economy. These initial objectives have not been abandoned.
However, today's EIB is very different from that which started operating in 1958. The Europe of Six has become that of Twenty-Seven (27 EU Member States as at time of publishing); the individual national economies have given way to the 'single market'; there has been continuous technological progress, whether in industry or financial services; and the concerns of European citizens have changed. This work is thus a history book. It follows the successive enlargements of the European Union as well as the changes in the economic and political environment. It endeavours to understand how the EIB has set its course over half a century of upheavals whilst remaining true to plans of its founders.