With 20 billion Euro in loans provided to 74 less developed regions, and 15 billion Euro invested in urban development and infrastructure in 2011, the EIB is a key partner for regional and local authorities in dealing with the crisis. Within this context, the Committee of the Regions held a debate with the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Werner Hoyer during its Plenary Session yesterday. Speaking on behalf of the EPP Group, Luc Van den Brande insisted that the EU budget has to be an investment budget and that there needs to be synergy between all budgets - EU, national, local and regional.
Luc Van den Brande also welcomed the Council decision to strengthen the role of the EIB and the introduction of project bonds. In his view these are important tools and could be of great use for the Connecting Europe Facility, for which the opinion of Ivan Zagar was adopted during the Plenary Session. His proposal to link this to the European Grouping of Territorial Cohesion (EGTC) was welcomed by President Hoyer who said that cross-border projects must be at the core of this initiative adding that the investment tagets will only be met by raising private money. The President also agreed with the evaluation that SMEs are having increasing difficulties with relation to access to finance, access to markets and reduction of administrative burdens. "This must be a specialised field of interest for the bank. We need to expand and there we need you and the banks in your regions" he concluded.
CoR President-elect, Ramon Luis Valcarcél Siso said that, "The CoR and the EIB should work together towards achieving a stronger territorial, economic and social cohesion in Europe". He reiterated the commitment of the Committee of the Regions in promoting better access to funding opportunities brought by the EU for local and regional authorities and announced that the CoR, "will promote an annual conference focused on public and private investment, in order to activate synergies among the main public and private financial institutions, starting with the EIB".