MEPs praised the European Investment Bank's quick response to the global financial crisis, namely the raising of its lending volumes
when they adopted Parliament's annual report on the bank's activities for 2008 on Thursday. However, while also welcoming improvements to the protection of whistleblowers and measures to tackle fraud, they called for more transparency over the allocation of global loans.
"The EIB came up with a very swift and effective response when the crisis began. It stepped up its activities, for example by providing increased loans to SMEs. In fact, it made full use of every single piece of capacity available in stimulating and helping to realise the European Economic Recovery Plan", the rapporteur Tamás Deutsch (EPP, HU) said in the debate preceding the vote. He added that the EIB should be fully involved in the EU2020 strategy.
Protection of whistleblowers and work against fraud
The resolution - which was adopted by show of hands - also welcomes the "systematic follow-up of Parliament’s recommendations undertaken by the EIB in recent years" as well as a new set of rules on protection of whistleblowers and the bank's ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards fraud and corruption.
However, they ask the EIB to examine ways of providing protection against retaliation for external complainants and to speed up the establishment of a blacklist of fraudsters. Concerned at the lack of transparency in the way ‘global loans’ are allocated and monitored in terms of tax governance, they call on the EIB to request that financial intermediaries make public any use of the global and framework loans they receive.
Support to SMEs
To improve support to small and medium-sized firms (SMEs), MEPs call on the EIB to apply bolder risk-taking in its lending policy towards SMEs without jeopardising its triple A status and to "make every effort to simplify the complicated and bureaucratic regulations found in certain projects, wherever they occur".
Parliament also asks the EIB and the Member States to consider the possibility of the EU becoming a shareholder in the Bank in addition to the Member States, which could lead to closer cooperation between the EIB and the Commission.
MEPs stress that the EIB's external action should be in line with EU policy objectives as stipulated in the treaties and suggest a clear division of labour may be needed for regions where EIB activity overlaps with other publicly funded financial institutions. They also ask for a revision of the current cooperation agreement between the Commission, EIB and EBRD as regards financing operations in the Eastern Neighbourhood, Russia and Central Asia.
Role of the EIB
The European Investment Bank, whose current president is Philippe Maystadt of Belgium, is the long-term lending bank of the European Union. It supports projects in current and future EU Member States as well as in EU partner countries. In 2008, the EIB signed loans worth €57.6 billion, an increase of 20.5% compared with 2007. Scrutiny of the EIB's financial activities is a joint responsibility of the EP's Budgetary Control Committee and Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. This year, the Budgetary Control Committee organised the review.
Source: ©European Union