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European public banks must improve transparency

Brussels - The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) score low on transparency according to the ‘2012 Aid Transparency Index’ [1] published today by the campaign group ‘Publish What You Fund’.

With a score of 44% the EIB comes 36th out of 72. EBRD is 21st and scored 54.8% [2]. Both banks lag far behind UK’s DFID (91.2%) and the IDA department of the World Bank (87.9%) which lead the ranking.

Bankwatch EBRD coordinator Ionut Apostol said: "According to the authors of the ranking, the EBRD dropped six places because other donors improved their performance over the past year, while the EBRD has lagged behind, failing to make significant progress on transparency. This news is particularly worrisome as this year the EBRD expanded its area of operations to include North Africa, a region where transparency in building post-revolutionary societies is key.”

Anna Roggenbuck from Counter Balance said: "The index shows that EIB keeps falling behind transparency standards for international financial institution. This is unacceptable for an official EU body. EU citizens and impacted people have the right to know exactly where and how the EU Bank spends its money. To preserve this right the EIB must immediately comply fully with EU legislation on access to information. This implies proactively disseminating comprehensive information on its operations to the public that goes beyond the limited facts which are currently available on its website".

A particular problem, undermining the transparency of both banks which were created to serve the public interest, is the excuse of commercial confidentially to hide important information from the public. The European Parliament has repeatedly called on the EIB to make more information available [3] especially in the light of the EU growth package which includes a EUR 60 billion increase in EIB lending.

David Hall-Matthews, Director of Publish What You Fund, said: “There is too little readily available information about aid, which undermines the efforts of those who both give and receive it. Transparency is essential if aid is to truly deliver on its promise.”

This is especially true for the EIB and EBRD. Although they are not official aid donors, transparency remains key to align their operations with those of other donors and to make it more effective. The report states that neither bank has increased its efforts on transparency. If their score is slightly higher than last year, this is only due to their performance on newly added standards.

As a first important step the authors call on both banks to sign the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) which offers a global common standard for publishing aid information. Aid information published to this standard is shared openly in a timely, comprehensive, comparable and accessible way.

Notes for the editors:

1. To see all the findings of the 2012 Aid Transparency Index, please visit: http://www.publishwhatyoufund.org/

2. Last years scores: EIB - 26%, place 37 out of 58; EBRD 50%, place 15 out of 58.

3. For MEP’s recommendations on transparency see European Parliament report on the EIB's own Annual Report for 2010 and
The medium-sized EIB bazooka - Europe’s people and environment must benefit this time around

For more information please contact:

Anna Roggenbuck
annar AT bankwatch.org

Berber Verpoest
press AT counterbalance-eib.org