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Address of Minister Andrej Bajuk, President of the Economic and Financial Council on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the EIB and Opening of a New EIB Building


His Royal Highness, Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are gathered here today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Bank, the European Investment Bank.  When the original six member states established the EIB with The Treaty of Rome back in 1958, nobody could have foreseen that in 50 years of its existence, the Bank would become the largest international financial institution in the world.

From an institution with the primary aim to promote balanced and steady development of the six member states, it never stopped to expand. It expanded in membership, mandate, geography, scope and, which is most visible, in the volume of operations. Today the Bank has 27 shareholders and supports cohesion, innovation, environmental sustainability, TENs, SMEs, and sustainable, competitive and secure energy as its main operational priorities. While the bulk of operations are in the EU, the EIB actively operates in the neighborhood countries and regions and beyond. Its volume of lending in 2007 amounted nearly to 48 billion Euros, thus by far exceeding the one of the World Bank.

The story of EIB--our Bank—is a vivid testimony of the power and success of the European idea. It is a vivid testimony of the profound changes brought about by the decisions taken by our predecessors in the aftermath of two world wars. In the midst of the spiritual and material devastation they had the vision and the courage to dream about a different path for our nations and societies, away from the blind adherence to utopian visions and ideologies towards a new direction, in which attention to quality of life, sustainability, peace and harmony that respects diversity became the essential characteristics. Visions and dreams are never enough. And they started the journey with no delay. And although we are all very much aware that these goals are far from being achieved, we are also aware how enormous the progress that has been made in all dimensions. Indeed, also on the economic front. And what was once described as the unfolding of a "quiet economic miracle" is today a reality that few dared to predict even a couple of decades ago. And the story of EIB was and still is very much a part of all that.

The celebration of the 50-anniversary of our Bank and the opening ceremony of the new EIB building presents a good opportunity to express our recognition to all that over the years contributed to the present solid standings of our Bank. To the Presidents, Governors, Directors, staff members of the Bank, I would like today convey our recognition and deep appreciation for a job well done.  The deeds and achievements of this institution speak for themselves. Again, our thanks to you all.

However, it is clear, that the Bank’s mandate is far from completed. The EIB has become an important financial instrument in the implementation of EU policies. As a key policy taker and facilitator it is actively involved in the EU as well as in the non-EU countries, be they accession countries or the third countries important for the EU. By adding value through operations that contribute to the reduction of wide disparities in development, employment, incomes and knowledge, the Bank pursues its mandate of supporting the economic and social cohesion of the Union.

The Bank also plays a catalyst role in the funding of projects and provides significant signaling effects. Being sensitive to the needs of the local environments it offers instruments tailored to its clients and passes the advantages to the final beneficiaries, thereby honoring its commitment of being a non-profit institution. In addition, the Bank contributes to capital market development, to capacity building and the dissemination of knowledge and experiences.

This is why the presence and involvement of the Bank remains relevant and important to all the EU members. And there is more. With an accumulated expertise and 50-year learning curve in local environment and across sectors, the Bank significantly helps member states to enhance private sector involvement in the public service delivery and private financing of infrastructure projects.

The challenges in achieving sometimes seemingly contradictory goals are constant and the Bank should continue to pursue coherent approaches for all major areas of its operations. Among those I could mention the Lisbon strategy, whose relaunching became one of the Slovene EU Presidency priorities. The proposed new approach in the area of innovations and knowledge economy, which we will discuss tomorrow, deals with financial, organizational and microeconomic aspect. With this approach the EIB will come even closer to being "the Bank for growth and jobs".

It is also important to underscore the Bank’s instrumental role in supporting the EU candidate and potential candidate countries in their preparation for membership.  I can confirm this on the basis of our own Slovenian experience, which has been positive in every respect. Although the first signed contracts date back to 1977, when Slovenia was still a part of Yugoslavia, we have fully realized how valuable the Bank’s support was in the accession period, when large infrastructure projects and other needs called for financial support.  More than 50% of the total value of operations supported by the bank in Slovenia up-to-date was signed in that period. . The involvement of the Bank was as welcome then as it is today, not only because of the attractiveness of the costs of financing, but because of its non-financial input, expertise and demonstration effect.

Now, let me turn to another object of interest and additional reason of our gathering here - the new building. In all its policies and actions the EIB considers and endorses sustainable development, which includes also due regard for the environment. Therefore, it is no surprise that this building complies with all environmental requirements, is energy efficient and uses renewable energy sources. With all its environmental attributes this building sets new standards for public buildings and it is may firm belief (and hope), that others will follow. I believe that once again, a good example will prove to be more effective than just policy recommendations.

A sound, responsive and innovative Bank as EIB certainly is—with its high accumulated reserves and a position that has never been stronger-- did not just happen and could never be taken for granted. The splendid results achieved in the past 5 decades would not be possible without the hard working, competent and committed staff led by an excellent management. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate our thanks to all that over the five decades contributed to this and in particular to you Philippe, for your wise leadership at the helm of the institution, that we will all continue to support. Congratulations to you all for your silver anniversary.

Thank you.


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Date: 02.06.2008