Voices heard

The EIB Complaints Mechanism handled more cases in 2017 than ever before.

That’s partly because the Bank is increasingly visible, which creates more awareness of its environmental and social impact, and of its independent, public accountability mechanism. It’s also the result of the growing number of complex deals in which the Bank is involved and some relatively high-profile projects that attracted multiple complaints.

The EIB Complaints Mechanism in 2017
114 new complaints, up 25 from 2016
103 complaints registered as admissible, up 19
173 cases handled, up 51
101 complaints open at year-end, up from 59

Mombasa Port Access Road

In January 2017, the Complaints Mechanism received the first of 13 complaints about the implementation of the Corrective Action Plan put in place within the Mombasa Port Access Road project in Kenya. The plan’s aim was to compensate 120 owners of structures of the Jomvu area evicted in May 2015 without due procedure. While the people affected had received cash compensation, the Complaints Mechanism found that the valuation of assets was not communicated transparently. Some affected people may also have been left out of the compensation. In December 2017, the complainants and the implementer of the project agreed that the Complaints Mechanism would facilitate a mediation process in 2018 to clarify the valuation methodology used for calculating compensation and to review the outcome of these valuations.

Mombasa homes whose residents may be left out of the compensation agreement

Trans Adriatic Pipeline

Known as TAP, this is the proposed Western part of the Southern Gas Corridor from the Greek-Turkish border to Italy via Albania. Complaints reached the Bank at an early stage of the project cycle, mainly about the valuation of expropriations in Greece and Albania. These complaints were circulated within the Bank for analysis during loan appraisal. The Complaints Mechanism registered a number of complaints from individuals and communities in Italy expressing concern about the project’s environmental and industrial risks. In 2017 the Complaints Mechanism received 22 new complaints, for a total of 38 complaints about TAP.

European Ombudsman

In 2017, the European Ombudsman informed the EIB of 11 new complaints concerning the Bank’s activities. Three of the complaints concerned delays in responses to complaints already submitted to the Bank: Ambatovy Nickel Mining in Madagascar; Castor Underground Storage in Spain; and an alleged failure to issue a decision on a conflict of interest investigation. The Ombudsman closed the last case, because the complaint was resolved after the complainant received the reply of the EIB. However, the Ombudsman carried out on-site inspections of the Bank’s files in the Ambatovy and Castor cases. The Ombudsman’s conclusions are expected to be published in 2018. Total outstanding complaints at the end of the year doubled to ten.

Policy revision

In May 2017, after consultations with the European Ombudsman, the Bank launched a public consultation to revise the EIB Complaints Mechanism policy, presenting the proposed changes to the public in June with additional written feedback collected at the end of September. This periodic review generated significant interest from individuals and, particularly, from Civil Society Organisations, which submitted a joint letter with extensive comments and proposals. The Bank is carefully reviewing these comments with the objective of implementing changes to the policy in the first half of 2018.

Cairo Metro

The Complaints Mechanism initiated another mediation in December 2017 over implementation of the Cairo Metro Line project. The project involved the involuntary resettlement of several communities, businesses and individuals, including more than 100 shop owners of the El Bohy market, in the Imbaba area. The Complaints Mechanism had already received a complaint from representatives of these groups in 2016, but the situation was exacerbated when the market was demolished in August 2017 without the community having accepted the compensation package. By the time the demolition took place, the Complaints Mechanism had already proposed mediation, in which the implementer of the project and people affected by it agreed to participate. Failure of the mediation would trigger a full review of the complaints.