EIB approves more than €10bn for energy, social housing and innovation

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved €10.8bn in funding for energy, social housing and support for business and innovation across Europe and beyond.

A total of 43 projects will benefit from the financing, and 16 of those projects will be backed by the Investment Plan for Europe — the so-called “Juncker Plan”, which aims to finance infrastructure and innovation projects, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The funding, approved on Tuesday, includes support for regional trains, the construction of new homes, renewable energy innovation and high-speed internet in towns and rural areas across Europe.

EIB President Werner Hoyer said: “The Investment Plan for Europe is progressing at a good pace. Thanks to the EU Budget guarantee, the [EIB] and the European Investment Fund [EIF] are financing investment in new sectors, working with new clients and promoters and catalysing private investment.”

He added: “This is a clear endorsement of the plan’s impact and benefit. The EU shows its resolve to address the investment gap and support investment for as long as it takes.”

Extension of EFSI

On Monday, the European Commission welcomed a vote by members of the European Parliament on the extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which is at the heart of the Juncker Plan.

Jean-Claude Juncker announced a proposal to reinforce the EFSI in his State of the Union address in September last year, seeking to extend the EFSI’s three-year duration from 2018 to 2020 and increase its financial capacity from €315bn to at least €500bn by 2020.

Under the EFSI’s Infrastructure and Innovation Window, the EIB has approved 206 infrastructure projects for financing, representing a financing volume of more than €25bn.

Under the EFSI’s SME programme, the EIF has approved 271 financing agreements, with total financing under the EFSI coming to more than €9bn.

Some 427,000 SMEs and mid-caps are expected to benefit from improved access to the finance they need to expand, create jobs and innovate.

Energy, housing, infrastructure, transport

The approvals made by the EIB on Tuesday include support for regional trains in Austria, social housing in Spain, France and Poland, financing for renewable energy innovation, energy transmission and distribution in France, Italy and Portugal, and high-speed internet in France and Sweden.

The EIB board approved schemes totalling €3.3bn to support investment by businesses in Austria, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Spain and Portugal in partnership with local banks and financial institutions.

This includes investment to cut emissions and improve energy efficiency with partner banks in Poland and the Czech Republic, and financing agriculture companies in Spain.

Proposals to build thousands of homes and cut energy bills in existing properties included financing for social housing projects in France, Spain and Poland, totalling €1.4bn.

This is expected to support the construction of more than 52,000 new homes.

More than €1.2bn of financing was approved for infrastructure in France and Italy, rolling out fibre-optic connections to 460,000 households and companies in Spain, and backing expansion of very-high speed broadband in Germany.

The Board approved €2.2bn for sustainable transport. This includes backing for new regional trains in Austria, improving airport security in Spain, expanding urban transport in Tampere and Naples, and co-financing transport investment alongside EU Structural Funds in Romania.

Financing outside Europe

Backing for new long-term financing for projects outside Europe includes support to modernise water supply and waste-water management in Tbilisi, Georgia, corporate investment in Morocco and investment to improve energy distribution in Paraguay.

The board also earmarked €100m for a climate action lending programme in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank.

This will support climate change adaptation and mitigation projects in small island states across the region.