Counter Balance warns against unconditional role for EIB in Central Asia, launches new website

The day before a European Parliament committee vote on extending the mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) to permit it to engage in lending activities in Central Asia, the campaign coalition Counter Balance: Challenging the European Investment Bank has pointed out the human rights, environmental and social risks attached to tasking the EU’s house bank with such a new role.

Desislava Stoyanova, Coordinator of Counter Balance, said: “One year on from the activation of the EU’s Strategy for Central Asia from 2007 to 2013, the European Commission is looking to wheel out the EIB to increase investment projects in Central Asia. This is despite the fact that the EIB currently lacks clearly elaborated environmental and social standards and adequate safeguard policies for its lending operations outside the EU. When you consider the harsh human rights situation in much of Central Asia, coupled with the predominance of untapped extractive industry projects in the region, an unconditional Community guarantee for the EIB in this context as is being proposed is utterly reckless.”

Writing on the EIB’s potential new role in an article published today on the website of the European Voice newspaper [1], Stoyanova asserted: “The bank’s contribution to democratisation and the improvement of human rights needs to be assessed. The terms for EIB-backed investments in the region’s energy sector should be clarified, elaborated and toughened, in line with the EU’s objectives of diversifying energy sources, meeting the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol and enhancing environmental protection.

“With such conditions in place, the EU would have the opportunity to play a role of some importance in ensuring the sustainable development of Central Asia and securing decent conditions for the people of the region.”

Counter Balance, composed of seven European NGOs that have extensive experience of tracking the EIB’s activities, has also today launched its campaign website.

Desislava Stoyanova said: “The new website provides a critical window on the EIB’s ever-expanding and, up to now, little-known activities outside the European Union, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and, most probably now, in Central Asia too. Unfortunately we’re not finding it too difficult to lay down challenges to the EIB and the website aims to develop a user community, including EIB officials, that will engage in constructive debate hopefully leading to an open and progressive EIB that delivers on EU development goals and that promotes sustainable development to empower the people affected by its work all over the world.”

For more information

Desislava Stoyanova
Counter Balance coordinator
Tel: + 32 2 542 01 85
Mobile: +32 487 617 482
Email: desislava at bankwatch.org

Notes for editors:

[1] The article – “A new great shame ahead?” – can be read at the European Voice website.

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