EIB responds to environmental critics

European Investment Bank insists that impacts properly assessed during project financing

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has defended itself against charges from NGOs in central and eastern European (CEE) countries that it takes too little account of environmental considerations when financing infrastructure projects. Over the past year, the bank has faced accusations that projects such as major city bypasses in Hungary and Poland have received EIB loans without undergoing adequate environmental impact assessments (ENDS Daily 2 February).

"It's not correct to conclude that projects the EIB finances are harmful for the environment," the bank's representative in Brussels, Dominique de Crayencour, told MEPs and NGO delegates at a hearing in the European Parliament today. Mr de Crayencour said all the projects it financed were assessed according to EU environmental impact assessment legislation and that all were approved by the European Commission.

"The bank can and does refuse projects that are not adequate," he said. "No projects with significant negative impacts on the environment will be financed." But Mr de Crayencour said NGO claims that its procedures lacked transparency might be justified. "We've not always been good [on this point], we agree, but we want to change and evolve," he said.

* Meanwhile, CEE Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth Europe have published a report criticising what they claim is a "serious lack of public participation" in the process of choosing environmental projects to benefit from pre-accession aid programmes funds run by the EU.

Follow Up:
EIB, tel: +352 4379 3146. Hearing organised by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group of the European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111. See also the CEE Bankwatch/FoEE report, Billions for Sustainability, and a press release.

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