NGOs attack bank's record in southern hemisphere

The social and environmental record of the European Investment Bank has been called into question by an alliance of NGOs.

The group of organisations, including Friends of the Earth and CEE Bankwatch, chose to launch their report to coincide with the EU's announcement that it would be teaming up with the bank to establish a new fund for Africa.

The bank, whose stated reason for existence is, effectively, to give EU policies financial clout, is accused in the report of working against the community's goals.

The European Investment Bank in the South: In whose interest? argues that the bank is ill-equipped to deal with the needs of the people of developing countries in the Southern Hemisphere and is instead geared towards supporting big business.

Jaroslava Colajacomo, lead author of the report, said: "Our report shows that there is a lack of development strategy in the EIB's operations in the South and that its funding is more directed towards supporting big companies in sectors such as extractive industries or water privatisation than towards poverty alleviation or environmental standards.

"We also propose recommendations for necessary changes in the institution and for the role of the Commission and the Parliament in ensuring supervision and coherence."

Magda Stoczkiewicz, of CEE Bankwatch added: "The EIB is currently a client-driven institution which readily finances projects where economic returns are guaranteed.

"The Commission wants to make the EIB a sort of European 'World Bank', but the institution will have to change profoundly if it is to deliver positive poverty alleviation and environmental protection outcomes."

The report contains several detailed case studies of projects backed by the EIB that have sometimes had a negative social or environmental impact on communities where they are based.

Among the cases discussed are water privatisation in Jakarta and the Philippines, a super-dam in Laos, strip mining in Zambia and oil extraction in Chad and Cameroon.

The full report can be found online here or by following the link.

By Sam Bond



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