Bankwatch Mail 54
Bankwatch Mail | 14 December 2012
In the ‘aftergloom’ of two major inter-governmental get-togethers – the latest UN climate talks in Doha and the EU budget summit in Brussels – Bankwatch Mail 54 discusses the revision of the energy lending policies at both the EIB and the EBRD – an opportune moment for both banks to show real climate ambition and turn their backs on fossil fuels. In an interview the new EBRD president Sir Suma Chakrabarti shows that much is moving as the bank juggles such hot potatoes as potential support for Monsanto’s expansion into our region while trying to lay down new roots in post-Arab Spring north Africa.
- The European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU’s bank and also the biggest public financial institution in the world by lending volume, has launched a public consultation on its energy policy and is seeking views from the public and other stakeholders that should feed into a review of one of the EIB’s most crucial lending sectors. The new policy is expected to take effect from June 2013.
- Monsanto, the world’s largest seed producer and one of the most well-known promoters of genetically modified crops worldwide, is in line to receive USD 40 million of public financial support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the bank disclosed last month.
- It was no surprise when the European Council summit meeting dedicated to deciding the EU’s budget for 2014-2020 broke down in Brussels on the afternoon of November 23 with no deal having been reached. The main surprises were how early on the Friday afternoon the EU’s 27 member states decided enough was enough, as well as the relative lack of rancour on display.
- There will be MFF 2014-2020 closure, in some shape or form, and presumably at some stage in 2013 – at least, that is, when it comes to the European level negotiating and haggling over the future EU budget. But what comes after? With our long-term EU Funds partners Friends of the Earth Europe, Bankwatch is organising a series of timely events to remind how sustained and constructive dialogue between official institutions and citizens can result in highly rewarding initiatives – all derived from EU budgetary spending.
- The European Investment Bank (EIB) has come under fire in recent weeks thanks to a loan granted to Ford Europe. The EU’s bank signed off on a EUR 200 million loan to the car giant for the company’s relocation of production to Turkey not long after Ford Europe announced the shutdown of its production sites in Genk, Belgium, and Southampton in England.
- Last month, residents in the village of Krupets in Ukraine blocked the Kyiv-Chop road that runs straight through the village. Their protest – the road was blocked off for more than 90 minutes – came as a result of horrifying car accidents (including ten fatal car accidents since the beginning of this year) that have taken place in their community due to the lack of a speed limit, street lighting and appropriate traffic signs. The regional prosecutor office has initiated a case against the regional roads agency for alleged violation of road and traffic safety standards.
- Although public authorities appear increasingly to be turning their backs on public-private partnerships (PPPs) for delivery of services and the provision of infrastructure, the beleaguered investment vehicle continues to be aggressively promoted by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB). An official in-depth evaluation of this financing model, however, remains long overdue.
- Sir Suma Chakrabarti became the sixth president of the EBRD this summer. Bankwatch Mail caught up with him recently to ask him his views on the bank’s operations in central and eastern Europe and, now, further afield, as well as on a few of the more acute issues that are currently high on the agenda – both for the EBRD and watchdog organisations like Bankwatch.
- A USD 3.7 billion PPP oil refinery expansion in Cairo is accompanied by contradictory project documents, making a mockery of claims by the public banks involved to be committed to ‘good governance’ or democracy. Despite being presented as merely translations of one document, the Arabic and English ‘versions’ are entirely different – with the Arabic markedly cursory and superficial.
- On November 30, the same day as the national government was under fire in the most heated protests Slovenia has seen in years, Slovenia’s ministers of finance and infrastructure added fuel to the flames by signing contracts with Simon Tot, director of the Sostanj lignite power plant for the controversial EUR 1.3 billion Sostanj Unit 6. These contracts prepare the ground for the signing of a state guarantee contract for a EUR 440 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the project.
- While it is not to be unexpected for the public to attempt to scrutinise the effective performance of governmental agencies, in recent years in Kazakhstan it has been far from obvious that many resources and services, projects and finances are being provided by international financial institutions (IFIs). Indeed, very often it is the IFIs that act as catalysts for various government programs, reforms and ideas that are subsequently adapted via the bureaucratic apparatus to Kazakhstan’s reality.
- Europe’s neighbouring countries, from the Western Balkans to Ukraine, are intent on pursuing unsustainable energy futures that rely heavily on coal and nuclear. The draft energy strategy of the European Energy Community, recently open for public comments, is no big departure from the national plans, as Bankwatch found out when compiling comments to the draft – and, moreover, this reliance on coal and nuclear energy could end up receiving EU support and financing.
- After long delays and more than three years in the making, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) finally in early November published its new mining sector policy. Yet both the consultation process and the final outcome have left “consulted stakeholders” disappointed.
- The EBRD’s board of directors is set to decide on December 12 whether or not to extend further significant financing to Canadian gold mining firm Dundee Precious Metals (DPM). This time the EBRD may invest up to USD 45 million in a ‘five-year revolving corporate debt facility’ to DPM valued at USD 150 million.
- The economic crisis has accelerated the development of new financial instruments for the next EU budget period in 2014-2020. The main intention behind these instruments is to deliver substantial levels of new investment money from increasingly limited public resources in order to plot a path towards Europe’s economic recovery.