Energy, particularly energy production and security of supply, has long been a central policy challenge for all governments in Europe. Energy production and exchange call for considerable investment efforts in research and the development of new technologies. The challenge in the financial sphere is now all the greater since, on top of meeting energy needs and ensuring a secure supply, come the impacts of climate change that led the EU to adopt, in December 2008, an energy-climate change strategy with the target of a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, a 20% renewable energy share of overall consumption and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency.

The European Investment Bank has of course been asked to play its role to ensure the success of this ambitious strategy. In 2006, the bank's new activity programme made energy a priority, although the sector has benefited from EIB lending for years. In the wake of adoption of the energy-climate change package, the bank has increased its commitment. Its lending targets for this sector increased from 4 billion in 2007 to 6.5 billion in 2008 and 9.5 billion in 2009. As a contribution to the European economic recovery plan approved by the European Council at the end of 2008 to lessen the impact of the financial and economic crisis, it approved an energy and climate change package amounting to additional lending of 6 billion for 2009 and the same amount for 2010.

In cooperation with the European Commission and other investing EU institutions, the EIB is working on the creation of the 2020 European fund for energy, climate change and infrastructure (Marguerite Fund) to finance equity and quasi-equity projects in these areas. It has teamed up with the Commission on joint initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors, launched in February 2009, targeting energy efficiency in public buildings, street lighting and clean public transport solutions, and the European strategic energy technology plan (SET plan), designed to accelerate the development and deployment of cost-effective low-carbon technologies.

Renewables as top priority

The EIB has decided to focus its financing on five priorities: security and diversification of internal supply (including trans-European energy networks - TEN-E), security of external supply and economic development (concerning neighbour and partner countries), energy efficiency, research, development and innovation (RDI) in energy, and renewable energy.


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