Spain was the third major destination for financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB), only behind France and Italy. The Luxembourg-based entity signed operations in Spain last year worth 9,961 million euros, 22% less, according to data presented this Thursday. This amount, which represents 0.76% of Spanish GDP —below the 1.07% that they represented the previous year—, will serve to support projects in which 23,000 million will be disbursed, if the contribution from other public partners and private. Most of the capital, 5,182 million, that is, 52% of the funds, will go to green projects, especially renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-emission transport, more than ever before. The bank, which stopped financing projects linked to fossil fuels two years ago, thus enhances its role as an EU climate bank: its investments in these items have increased by 32% in Spain compared to 2021, and if we go back to the last five years, have multiplied by four.
According to the bank, the decrease in financing for Spain is due to the fact that in 2021 it delivered an extraordinary item of 2,600 million within the framework of the European Guarantee Fund, a tool created to keep the flow of credit open and support the supply chains that it reversed. especially in small businesses affected by the pandemic. Without counting it, the 2022 figure was very similar to the 2021 figure.
“Just when the world began to turn the page on the covid-19 pandemic, a new crisis broke out,” recalled Ricardo Mourinho, vice president of the EIB, alluding to the invasion of Ukraine. “It was a wake-up call to the EU on the importance of energy security and strategic autonomy,” he said. The bank believes its position as a financier of renewable projects that reduce Europe’s energy dependency has become more important after it cut Russian supplies because of sanctions. The low interest rates they offer are also an additional attraction in times of more expensive credit due to the tightening of the central banks’ monetary policy.
As examples of initiatives that have benefited from its financing, the EIB cites Solaria and Helios photovoltaic plants in Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha and Aragón, the Atlas wind plants in Andalusia and Cantabria, the 120 million committed to Repsol for build and operate an advanced biofuels plant in Cartagena, support for Iberdrola for its green hydrogen plant in Puertollano (Ciudad Real) or the 250 million granted to Endesa for the improvement, modernization and expansion of electricity distribution networks. Outside the environmental area, there are other important payments, such as the 650 million to health programs at hospitals in Madrid and Galicia. Although there are big names from the Ibex among the beneficiaries, according to the bank’s executives, 2,485 million have been dedicated to small and medium-sized companies.
One day after it became known that the European Commission wants the EIB to be able to finance the military industry of the Twenty-seven, those responsible for now are throwing balls out. At the moment, their mandate does not include the purchase of war material, and they stick to that, although they recognize that in the six years from 2021 to 2027 they will put 6,000 million on the table —1,000 million per year— to finance dual-use technologies, civil and military, focused on security, infrastructures and state-of-the-art technology. “But the EIB cannot finance weapons or ammunition,” Mourinho repeated.
This restriction still present in its rules has not prevented the financing dedicated to Ukraine from increasing exponentially. It provided 1,700 million euros as soon as the war broke out to repair hospitals, electrical networks or water facilities, and they continue to be in contact with their Government to meet their needs, as long as they focus on civilian facilities.
A permanent fund
The number two of the EIB praised the step taken by the approval of the European Recovery Plan after hard discussions between the Member States, and was in favor of its continuity. “It is important that the structure created with Next Generation EU, which has made it possible to mutualize debt in Europe, remains as an instrument of the EU’s response, preserving cohesion and favoring convergence”.
Asked if the delay in the purchase of 31 trains for Cantabria and Asturias by Renfe -due to an error in the height measurements of the convoys- will alter the loan of 150 million that the EIB has granted to the project, Mourinho pointed out that They have been informed that these modifications are going to be made, and that it will not be a problem, since it is normal for there to be certain corrections in the initiatives in which they participate. When this happens, the bank can adjust the financing to the new terms, as long as there is a clear justification, as is the case, and the principles of the project do not change, which they describe as very positive and in line with the principles of the EIB, because It contributes to replacing the automobile with the train and to reducing the rail accident rate.
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