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 Full text 
Thursday, 29 March 2012 - Brussels OJ edition

European Investment Bank - annual report 2010 (debate)

  Iliana Ivanova, rapporteur. – Mr President, first of all, I would like to congratulate Mr Hoyer on his new post and say that I hope he continues the excellent cooperation between the EIB and the European Parliament.

The European Union is going through the most difficult period in its history. Yesterday, the ECB again expressed its disappointment at the low growth levels and the lower than expected business crediting. At the same time, unemployment rates are greatly increasing in most of our Member States.

In addition to these factors, Europe also faces important external challenges, such as climate change, energy issues and democratic changes in neighbouring countries. That is why the EU needs this strong institution and I welcome the European Investment Bank’s strong commitment to taking a leading role in reviving the European economy.

In the 2010 annual report, I emphasised several important issues that addressed these challenges. The first critical point for me is support for small and medium-sized enterprises. I am convinced that a well-functioning real economy, and SMEs in particular, should be the engine that will boost the EU economic recovery.

The EIB group ensures significant support for SMEs across Europe through its different instruments. Nevertheless, there are still areas that could be improved. First, enhanced transparency in the way that the EIB selects financial intermediaries and allocates global loans. A lot has been done in recent years, but the system of providing this type of financial assistance still needs to be improved. We need clear performance indicators and targets as well as better supervision of financial intermediaries in order to assess the effectiveness of these programmes. It is clear that the final results cannot be properly assessed without adequate and explicit targets. I hope that President Hoyer will address these issues with even better responsiveness than the EIB has demonstrated so far.

The second important point concerns external policy. Even though we recently increased the financial envelope for external affairs, from the budgetary control standpoint, there are still some concerns. There is insufficient information about the results, the impact and the achievements of this policy. The information on the quality of the sub-project’s finances, and consequently the final beneficiaries’ performance, does not provide sufficient assurance that the desired objectives are being achieved. I believe that these points are essential. The European guarantee to the EIB operations outside the EU represents a potential liability for the EU budget and we need to see efficient monitoring tools that show the real value-added of the finance project.

Last but not least, I want to stress my concerns regarding the issues related to internal control mechanisms. I am concerned about the increase of the overall level of credit risk in the Bank’s loan portfolio. It is clear that this is a result of growing pressures on the creditworthiness of existing counterparties and the higher risk embedded in new operations.

The capital adequacy ratio decreases more and more each year. I wonder how the risk management philosophy of the EIB is addressing these challenges. When targeting beneficiaries, it is important to consider seriously their creditworthiness and to actually think of instruments that would encourage and help countries with good financial discipline. We need to give good students a boost as well, and I expect the EIB to take this recommendation on board.

I would like to emphasise the fact that the AAA credit rating of the bank represents the cornerstone of its activity and is essential for its operations. In this respect, the EIB should take all necessary steps to preserve this rating.

I would again like to thank President Hoyer for his cooperation, as well as for the excellent communication we have had with the Brussels representation of the EIB.

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