Response by European Investment Bank (EIB)
We refer to your message of 22 October 2021 addressed to the European Investment Bank (EIB), inviting the EIB to respond to the allegations raised in the report of the advocacy NGO CEE Bankwatch Network “Public money vs. pristine rivers”.
We would first like to thank you for giving the EIB the opportunity to comment on these allegations.
The EIB understands that the report, which repeats allegations already raised by the NGO in the past, has been produced on the occasion of the review of the EIB Environmental and Social Sustainability Framework (ESSF), which included an extensive public consultation held between 3 June and 6 August 2021.
Given that this review is still ongoing, the Bank does not wish to anticipate its outcome, and therefore does not wish to comment at this stage regarding allegations based on the draft documents initially presented for public consultation and which are subject to change. The NGO has actively participated to this review and its contributions are being taken into account and will be duly addressed together with all the other contributions received.
The Bank notes however that none of the large hydropower projects mentioned in the report have received EIB funds at this stage, as their appraisal is still ongoing, and the corresponding finance contracts are yet to be signed.
The EIB also notes that all of the small hydropower investments mentioned in the report where financed prior to the entry into force of the EIB Environmental, Climate and Social Guidelines on Hydropower Development (October 2019) which, as acknowledged in the report, has contributed to further improve and clarify the Bank’s approach to this sector.
Finally, the EIB would also like to point out that, once approved, the EIB ESSF will be complemented by Guidance Notes explaining in more details to promoters how to apply the EIB standards. Irrespective of the final ESSF, projects in the hydropower sector will also have to comply with the relevant conditions and commitments included in other existing policies such as the EIB Energy Lending Policy or the Bank’s Climate Roadmap.