Counter Balance – Challenging public investment banks is a European coalition of development and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with extensive experience working on development finance and the international financial institutions (IFIs) as well as campaigning to prevent negative impacts resulting from major infrastructure projects.
The coalition was formed in 2007 to specifically challenge the European Investment Bank (EIB) and push for its reform. While the EIB remains our main target, we have expanded the scope of our work to other public investment banks such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and national Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) – all public financial institutions which operate similarly. We also deal with related EU policies and regulations impacting those institutions.
Counter Balance’s mission is to make European public finance a key driver of the transition towards socially and environmentally sustainable and equitable societies.
We do this by holding EU public financial institutions to account, challenging harmful decisions, policies and projects, and promoting alternatives. As a coalition we work in close cooperation and solidarity with affected communities and citizens around the world and are willing to act as a support service for them.
Starting from the observation of a growing dominance of private finance driving inequality and straitjacketing our economies, politics and societies, we pay a lot of attention to how money is spent and who profits from it.
Therefore, we challenge the business model of public investment banks which is increasingly subordinated to the same market logic, even when tasked with promoting development. The tendency to appeal to and strengthen financial markets rather than to counterbalance them is also reflected in the financial mechanisms used to finance infrastructure and support the private sector.
At the same we promote and advocate for more transparency and stronger accountability mechanisms for these institutions. We support our findings and recommendations through case studies illustrating the impact of public financial flows.
Counter Balance’s members include:
* BothEnds (the Netherlands)
* Bretton Woods Project (United Kingdom)
* CEE Bankwatch Network (Central and Eastern Europe)
* Corner House (United Kingdom)
* Les Amis de la Terre (France)
* ODG (Spain)
* Platform (United Kingdom)
* Re:Common (Italy)
* urgewald (Germany)
An overview of our most important activities can be found in our yearly reports: