Luncheon-debate with Emma Navarro, Vice President of the European Investment Bank

On 17 December, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized in Luxembourg a luncheon-debate with Emma Navarro, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), under the title of ‘’The role of the EIB facing European challenges’’. The event included the participation of different Spanish company executives and various representatives of public bodies, both Spanish and European. It was the President of the Chamber, Juan Rodríguez Villa-Matons, who introduced Emma Navarro reviewing her relevant professional career and expressing his acknowledgment for her collaboration with the Chamber in the participation of this event.

EIB Vice-President began with a brief presentation of the institution, emphasizing its historical occupation on financing infrastructures and encouraging innovation and competitiveness in Europe, introducing new channels that the Bank is already attending in today’s context. Emma Navarro appeared optimistic, describing a favorable cyclical and conjunctural situation, to then emphasize the political, economic and structural challenges that Europe faces.

Among the challenges, Emma Navarro distinguished the political from the structural ones. Regarding the political scene, she highlighted the growing protectionist tendency in Europe and the Brexit, involving this one a need for Bank funds capital replacement. She also brought to light the escalation of populism as a response to multilateral processes. In relation to structural challenges, the speaker remarked the aging of population, the public debt, the increasingly low productivity and the climate change.

The luncheon-debate continued with the analysis of the structural challenges. Encouraging public debt reduction is an inexorable priority for the EIB regarding both the UE restraints as an international organization such as the lack of scope for fiscal action but also the exchange rate policies implementation. Low productivity is another of the main challenges, although this represents a key opportunity for the EIB to foster investment in infrastructure, digitalization and competitiveness. The convenience of attending to an increase in productivity is double if we consider that in this year only a 75% of the budget prior to the financial crisis has been allocated to this item. The fight against climate change is the last challenge analyzed by Emma Navarro. Currently, the EIB allocates more than 25% of their investments to projects fighting the effect of climate change and has the forecast of reaching 100,000 million dollars in between 2016 and 2020. So much so that the EIB is claimed as the main issuer of green bonds, representing 5% of the total.

The intervention of Emma Navarro ended with a special mention of SMEs, for which the EIB acts as a fundamental actor in terms of financing in addition to other major projects such as Madrid Underground. Following the presentation, there was a round of questions among the attendees.

Héctor Esteban Moreno, CEO of Bankinter Luxembourg, closed the event by highlighting the bank’s special relationship within the industrial sector since its foundation, in 1965. Bankinter is claimed to be the sixth Spanish bank in terms of assets, and the first in profitability. He confesses to be at ease with the guidelines presented by Emma Navarro, not only because about a 30% of their income comes from SMEs but also because Bankinter shares multiple collaboration agreements with the EIB in terms of finance investment and innovation.

The Chamber thanks Bankinter Luxembourg for its collaboration in the organization of the event, and the Bodega Salferso Wine for sponsorship of the wines.