The capital of the European Investment Bank was increased by 67 billion in April 2009, bringing the capital subscribed by European Union member states to 232 billion. The 27 finance ministers, who are also EIB governors, agreed, on 2 December 2008 in Brussels, to the principle of the early increase, in response to the request by Philippe Maystadt. The EIB president argued convincingly to the ministers that the EIB needed the fresh funds to finance all the new investments being considered to combat the recession and stimulate economic activity.

The challenge is equal to the experience of the EIB, which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary.The bank was set to launch, in 2009, the second year of its Corporate operational plan 2008-2010', but opted instead, on 16 December 2008, to adopt a new project, the Corporate operational plan 2009-2011'. The new plan sets out "increased lending targets and other practical measures to mitigate the current financial and economic crisis".


The Operational plan 2008-2010' nevertheless seems tailor-made for dealing with crises, based on its guiding principle, approved by the bank's Governing Council in June 2005: "Taking more risk to provide greater added value in support of EU policies".

The approach of "taking more risk when required for strategic objectives" is in fact, note the bank's officials, a "continuing feature of the EIB's activities". Recently, refinements were made to the bank's credit policy, loan grading and risk pricing systems, in particular through the use of a new internal rating methodology, which complies with Directive 2006/48/EC for new asset classes. They strengthen the bank's capacity for risk taking. Modifications of the credit risk policy concerning unsecured lending to banks and corporate enterprises, financial collateral and loan substitutes (in particular asset-backed securities and covered bonds) also increase the EIB's ability to "cater for more innovative structures as well as for operations providing capital relief to the bank's borrowers," add the experts.

Policy will thus be bolder but still remain within the limits that preserve the EIB's stability and credibility on financial markets. "The implementation of the strategy must be reconciled with the EIB's long-term financial sustainability objective," notes the bank in its Annual report 2007'. In a premonitory comment ahead of the financial turmoil that shook the financial sector in...

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