Informal meeting of EU Ministers responsible for Urban Matters, Amsterdam

Panel: How do we move forward on the EU Urban Agenda?

Dear Ministers, Commissioners,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The Urban Agenda is gaining more and more importance for all of us due to several reasons, including the megatrend of urbanisation, the current refugee crisis and the high priority of climate issues. The European Investment Bank, the EU bank, fully recognizes this and is willing to make this sector an even higher priority in the coming years.

The urban sector has indeed become a mainstream investment area of the lending of the EIB. Our financing for the areas covered by the Urban Agenda is estimated at close to a hundred billion euros (EUR 94.6 billion) over the last five years, representing roughly a quarter of our total lending. The EIB lends across all of the priority themes of the Urban Agenda, across all the Member States and across big and small cities.

What could be of interest to you is that the Bank has already approved urban projects under the European Fund for Strategic Investments. The EFSI guarantee will enable the Bank to fund urban projects involving greater levels of risk, for example through risk sharing with promotional banks, lending to lower rated municipalities or municipal companies, financing of private sector services provision to municipalities through PPPs etc., or investment in funds targeting urban upgrades.

Besides financing, the EIB contributes to the Urban Agenda through itsadvisory services, in particular JASPERS, which provides support for the preparation of ESIF grant-funded projects, ELENA, which provides energy efficiency TA support, and Decentralised Instruments Advisory. It is also expected that the European Investment Advisory Hub will be contacted by cities for support.

Our priorities under the Urban Agenda are threefold:
– To continue to lend across all the priority themes,
– To look at ways in which we can contribute to Better Funding, and
– To look at ways in which we can contribute to Better Knowledge through our advisory services.

We especially welcome the holistic and pragmatic approach of the Pact of Amsterdam. The EIB is a projects bank with a big specialist technical staff. The quality of the projects and the final impact on the real economy have always been at the core of our lending activities. We believe that the Pact of Amsterdam can contribute to benefiting the citizens of European cities through this quality angle, by enabling relevant partnerships, by developing better financial tools such as urban development funds, and by sharing knowledge and best practice. Value for money is not losing importance in the era of growing constraints on public resources – quite the opposite.

I would like to congratulate everybody involved and in particular the Dutch Presidency for bringing the Urban Agenda to this point. The EIB stands ready to play its part in taking this important Agenda forward.

Thank you.