We want more
22 December 2015, POLITICO Pro's Morning Energy
Non-government organization CEE Bankwatch is not happy with the amount of information the European Investment Bank has provided regarding its lending to the Volkswagen Group in recent years. Bankwatch wrote to the EIB at the end of September, asking the bank to disclose documents related to the “green loans” it provided to VW, wanting to see loan contracts or evidence that VW used the money according to the conditions of the contract. As a reminder, Bankwatch is the group that first calculated the German carmaker received more than €4 billion from the EIB, with much of the money going to research aimed at developing cleaner engines. The news came after the German carmaker admitted to cheating on emissions tests. The EIB has since said it is worried about how its money might have been used and is looking into the matter; and OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office, has also opened an investigation to see how VW used EIB money.
—Redacted content: Bankwatch had asked for information about a dozen loans that went to VW. After a series of mail exchanges, the EIB disclosed the finance contracts, as well as progress and completion reports the German carmaker submitted. But the NGO says the documents are very heavily redacted. “The level of confidentiality on how public funds were spent by VW and the way EIB protects its client is really amazing,” Bankwatch’s Anna Roggenbuck told us. As part of its seven-page reply to the group, the EIB justified the redactions on the need to protect commercial interests. It also noted that “none of the information redacted from the disclosed documents relate to the environment,” and, as a result, “no overriding public interest” exists in those blanked out sections.
—Some reading material: Here’s the group’s original request: http://bit.ly/1m3wOHZ The EIB response: http://politi.co/1JoMLNW. An example of a redacted progress report http://politi.co/1QUCyig And a reminder of our story on the matter: http://politi.co/1Lh5ifM