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The operational priorities of the European Investment Bank

Instituted by the Treaty of Rome and created in 1958, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union's (EU) bank for long-term loans. It contributes to European integration and the economic development of the less-favoured regions. In 1994 the European Investment Fund (EIF) was set up to support the development of high-growth small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and/or those active in new technologies. The EIB is the majority shareholder and operator of the EIF. In 2000 the EIB Group was created, consisting of the EIB and the EIF. Within the Group, the EIB grants medium and long-term bank loans, while the EIF specialises in venture-capital operations and providing guarantee for SMEs.

In its corporate operational plan the EIB sets out its medium-term policy and identifies its operational priorities in the light of its objectives as laid down by its governors. For the 2011-2013 period, lending activity is geared around the following priorities:

Economic and social cohesion in an enlarged European Union

The EU cohesion policy aims to reduce economic and social disparities between the different EU regions. Moreover, the Commission implements this policy through the Structural Funds which provide grants to the European regions.

The EIB complements the action of the Structural Funds through loans it provides under the framework of the cohesion policy. These loans represent a second source of funding for projects undertaken at local or regional level.


Support for the knowledge economy

The EIB is working towards creating a knowledge economy aimed at stimulating economic growth, employment and social cohesion. Under this aim, the EIB supports investment in three areas:

  • education;
  • research and development;
  • innovation.

Development of trans-European networks

The EIB also provides major support for funding trans-European networks (TENs). These networks are infrastructure networks for transport, energy and communication.

Environmental protection

Projects supported by the EIB in the field of environmental protection concern the following sectors:

  • the urban environment;
  • sustainable transport;
  • water resource management (supply and sanitation);
  • combating climate change;
  • renewable energies and energy efficiency.

In addition, all projects financed by the EIB, whichever kind they may be, must comply with European principles, practices and standards in environmental matters.

Support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

The EIB provides medium and long-term funding for SMEs through credit lines made available to intermediaries (banks or other financial institutions). Through these credit lines, intermediaries can support limited-size investment projects run by SMEs.

The EIF, for its part, supports SMEs either directly by providing own resources through venture-capital funding, or indirectly by guaranteeing portfolios of loans to SMEs held by financial institutions or public guarantee agencies.

Promotion of sustainable, competitive and secure energy

Supporting the EU’s energy needs is one of the EIBs lending priorities. The EIB therefore focuses its action on five priority areas:

  • renewable energy;
  • energy efficiency;
  • research, development and innovation;
  • diversification and security of internal supply;
  • external energy security and economic development.

Human capital

The EIB contributes human capital by granting loans in the health and education sectors. Loans provided by the EIB may, for example, finance new buildings, equipment or even be invested in university research.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Last updated: 29.04.2011
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