EIB invests in climate action and innovation
Two-thirds of the bank operations were with new clientsMaria Koleva , Brussels
Closing the innovation gap and climate action were the two areas where the European Investment Bank Group set special focus last year. Presenting the results for 2018 at the traditional annual press conference in Brussels, EIB President Werner Hoyer outlined that during the last 12 months the EU bank provided more than €64bn of financing, which supported €230bn of total investment. As he explained, the figure is close to the 2017 level but with less financing.
Supporting the Paris climate agreement, the bank of the EU Member States is likely to meet its commitment to provide €100bn of climate-finance from 2016 to 2020.
Digitalisation, SMEs, education and skills, sustainable energy and the modernisation of infrastructure were the crucial spheres for the European economy to keep pace with global competition, Werner Hoyer made clear. For boosting innovation were provided €13.5bn and the EIB president specified that this has been done while supporting cohesion and conversion regions, and almost 32% of the bank's financing in Europe was dedicated to this purpose.
We do not see a contradiction between cohesion and innovation - on the contrary, we have shown how these goals can be delivered simultaneously, Hoyer pointed out, highlighting that every euro the bank provided supported more total investment than ever before. We work to make sure Europe benefits from more total investment, not just from us but principally from others - commercial banks, private and public investors, he illustrated.
Two-thirds of the operations were done with new clients, making the financing available to an unprecedented spectrum of companies. We signed 854 projects and increased our capacity to deal with a larger number of smaller projects, Hoyer said.
The Juncker Plan target for mobilising €315bn was also outshined last year and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), managed by the EIB Group as part of the Juncker Plan, triggered more than €375bn of investments, and its next aim - €500bn by 2020 - is already on the horizon. According to the EIB chief, the negotiations with the Commission on the continuation of this successful model under the post-2020 EU MFF are advancing well. Concerning the geographical distribution of EIB financing, Hoyer commented that the top five countries were Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Croatia and Poland. From EFSI perspective - on the top is again Greece, followed by Estonia, Portugal, Spain and Lithuania.
No matter how good our performance with EFSI by 2020, the principles and roles that enabled its success must be maintained beyond that date, Hoyer told media.
SMEs and midcap support remains an important policy objective of the EIB Group and just in the last years over €23bn were provided to the sector. Over 370,000 companies in Europe are expected to benefit. The European Investment Fund in support of SMEs, alone, rose to above €10bn for the very first time, which is expected to mobilise an impressive €78bn of financing to start-ups and other small- and medium-sized companies and midcaps.