The European Investment Bank announced, in April 2007, that it had "adopted a new lending policy for transport". That same year, the CEE Bankwatch Network, an NGO specialised in monitoring the activity of international financial institutions, published a report in which it criticised the EIB's investment choices in the sector: too many roads, too many airports and not enough investment in cleaner modes of transport were among the main points of the report. In other words, CEE Bankwatch feels that the EIB is not doing enough to achieve the EU targets in the fight against climate change and is not promoting cleaner modes of transport as defined in the European Commission's white paper on EU transport policy. The report, which results from ten years' monitoring of EIB investment in transport (from 1996 to 2005), highlights the fact that more than half of transport investment funding during the given period was allocated to road and air projects. In Central and Eastern Europe, this percentage was almost 70%.

How 'green' is EIB?

The question deserves at least to be analysed and probably kept in perspective. It is true that road projects received most investments during the period in question. In the EU15, 32% of EIB investments in the transport sector between 1996 and 2005 were allocated to road projects followed by rail, a close second, with 28%, and urban public transport (19%) and then air transport (17%) in fourth position. Maritime transport comes in last, with only 4%.

In Central and Eastern Europe, the percentage of road project funding is even higher (no less than 62.9%), compared to 20.13% for rail and 5.75% for air transport. But if all investment during this period throughout the whole of the EU15 is considered, rail and urban public transport together are in the lead, with 54%, followed by 40% for road projects. These figures also show a marked increase in investment in urban public transport (underground networks, trams, buses, light rail) in 2004-2005, so much so that in fact public transport takes the lead in terms of EIB investment during these two years, followed by rail, with road transport in third place.

More recently, however, figures released by the EIB for 2004-2008 place road transport once again in first position. Of the 55.364 billion loans signed for during this five year period, 17.639 billion went to road transport, closely followed by rail, with 15.337 billion, and urban transport not far behind, with 12.140...

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