The Bank that Gets Things Done

I write about the achievements of the European Investment Bank during the last year at a time when every week – every hour – is crucial. As the EU bank pits its expertise and financing power against COVID-19, we are also mindful of a critical decade ahead in the fight against climate change. Though there are many who doubt whether coronavirus and climate change can be addressed simultaneously, we are confident that this is an absolute necessity. The immediate battle to return our economies to health must also lay the foundations of a sustainable future.

We laid down an ambitious marker last year. We promise to dedicate 50% of our financing to climate action and environmental sustainability as of 2025. Everything we do will be fully aligned with the Paris Agreement. Last year we also approved our new energy lending policy. This includes a commitment to end investment in conventional fossil fuel projects from the end of 2021. The European Investment Bank is the first international financial institution to make such a pledge. This is a striking example of European leadership on the climate front. The work highlighted in this report demonstrates the expertise that makes us a key pillar of the European Green Deal announced by the Commission in January 2020.

Climate action does not mean overlooking other areas of our work. This report demonstrates that, to be effective, climate action must operate within the spheres of cohesion, innovation, SMEs and infrastructure. If it fails to do so, quite simply it fails. Climate action, for example, also means job creation. Our Investment Report 2019-2020 forecasts that green energy specifically will create around 500 000 jobs in Europe over the coming decades.

The cohesion work that has been a central focus of the Bank since 1958 takes on a new dimension with our expanded climate ambitions. Throughout 2019, our experts supported the formulation of the Commission’s Just Transition Mechanism, which will facilitate the move to cleaner energy in regions and industries based on fossil fuels. Our unique position at the nexus of EU institutions, national governments and Europe’s cities and regions makes this a key mission for the EIB in the coming years. In the same way, our development work has a focus on climate resilience and adaptation, because these save or safeguard lives – and because they build economic prosperity.

Before climate became our central focus and before the COVID-19 emergency, the European Investment Bank was given the mammoth task of supporting the investment of half a trillion euros into the EU economy over five years, as part of the Juncker Plan. In 2020, we are comfortably on course to hit that €500 billion headline target. Most importantly, we already know that this great programme has had a structural impact on the European economy, boosting jobs and growth for decades to come.

It is our job to support the European project and sustainably invest in Europe’s future. This is what we did in 2019 and this is what we shall continue to deliver.

Werner Hoyer

We promise to dedicate 50% of our financing to climate action and environmental sustainability, as of 2025. Everything we do will be fully aligned with the Paris Agreement.

A world of clean energy