For the European Investment Bank (EIB), Nadia or nobody. Let us borrow the play on words used by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, to argue the lack of economic policy from his rivals. Now serve a transversal objective: either the current vice president Nadia Calviño gets the presidency of the EIB, or no other Spaniard will. But before x-raying if it fits, let’s see if it’s interesting.
Of great importance. First, because the EIB is the only Community public financial institution contemplated since the Treaty of Rome (1957): to promote “economic development” (not just “growth”) and as a lever for North-South redistribution. It has been a lonely counterpoint to economism. And a lever for economic and social cohesion. The EIB has financed investments in infrastructure, urban development, green economy. In increasing amounts: up to 72,500 million in credits in 2022 (of which 9,961 million in Spain, a large customer and beneficiary) for investments of more than a quarter of a billion euros, supporting one million jobs.
In addition to the moment of birth (1958, dawn of the Common Market), that always key detail, others stand out. First: its push under the mandate of Jacques Delors of the Commission (1985-1995), which doubled the structural funds and promoted digestible debt to finance the large trans-European networks.
Second: the replacement work that it carried out after the Great Recession to the collapse of private investment (due to anemia) and public (because it was easy to cut or due to fanaticism): the Juncker Investment Plan, incorporated into the group, multiplied them. In all these cases, thanks to rigorous management, given its financial soundness (the bank’s subscribed capital reaches 248,000 million; it enjoys a triple A rating, that of the safest investment) and its sociopolitical roots, since its credits usually cover only a third of what was granted by governments. The co-financing principle is revealed to be a pillar in the federal construction of Europe.
Third and main, what will come. As the reconstruction of Ukraine will soon be the EU’s great external task, although now it is barely accounted for (dissuasive, since it will exceed one trillion euros), its main instrument will be the EIB, especially if misgivings about new mutualisations of debt (eurobonds). Nobody disputes the borrowing capacity of the EIB: if anything, debate whether a new impulse, ambition and displacement is in its interest. That require a far-reaching political commitment.
And that is where Calviño’s experience can be beneficial, not only for Spain —well positioned in the entity’s credit portfolio— but for the whole of the Twenty-seven. The immediately nostalgic and the fishermen in troubled rivers should remember that any candidacy for a relevant position in the European and international organization chart is favored if it is forged with the applicant in a command position (and not as a has-been): these were the paradigmatic cases of Javier Solana and Josep Borrell, and Rodrigo Rato (although this ended sadly).
Even more so if his balance sheet turns out to be fruitful, such as that of his last five years at the helm of the Spanish economy, successful at home and in the EU, where he sponsored the Next Generation Recovery Plan and the agreement with the flexible hawks (the recent Netherlands). on tax rules. Germany, France, the Commission recognize it, tutti quanti.
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