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The changing of the guard: How will the EIB create a greener future with Calviño at the helm?

It's the biggest multilateral lender in the world; the European Investment Bank is providing funds for green projects instead of fossil fuel investments. It is also financing the reconstruction of Ukraine and supporting innovation and competitiveness, not just in Europe but across the globe.

Euronews Correspondent Stefan Grobe spoke with Nadia Calviño, the Former Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and newly-appointed President of the European Investment Bank on The Global Conversation.

To watch the full interview click on the video in the media player above or read the full interview below.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: You just started your six-year term a few weeks ago and already have a lot on your plate. I want to mention one priority, to begin with, Ukrainian reconstruction. Obviously, a monumental task that requires strong European commitments. I wonder how this is going to be managed, how do you fund projects that could still be destroyed by war?

Nadia Calviño, President of the European Investment Bank: Well, the bank has been active in Ukraine for a long time. And actually, since the war started, we have already invested €2 billion in Ukraine. It's [also] very good news that last week, leaders agreed to reinforce the Ukraine facility. That's also going to give more guarantees and more firepower to the European Investment Bank Group to continue to support Ukraine now and invest in the reconstruction once the war is over, as soon as possible, I hope.

The EIB's fight against climate change

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: The EIB is also known by many people as the green bank.So, tell us a little about the projects, the industries, the numbers. And are investors still excited?

Nadia Calviño, President of the European Investment Bank: Absolutely. Well, last year we invested €49 billion in the green transition. So, I think it's very good. And it's really a good description of the bank to call us the climate bank. And we have consolidated our brand and we are financing, the whole cycle. That has to do with the green transition from R&D [research and technical development] and deployment of disruptive technologies to reinforcement of the grid. Also, decarbonisation of heavy industry, energy efficiency and net-zero technologies. And so, I think that is the right way to support the transition.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: There is currently an increase in big carmakers delaying the rollout of new electric models, farmers protesting environmental regulations and populists ignoring climate policy. Is the Green Deal in real danger?

Nadia Calviño, President of the European Investment Bank: We are in a transition and changes are disruptive, there are costs involved, which is why the public sector, politicians, as well as public institutions such as the European Investment Bank Group need to accompany those sectors.

We need to support the agricultural sector in undertaking the necessary investments. We need to support heavy industry to make these adjustments. We need citizens to have access to affordable green technologies.

It is our duty to explain things and to accompany our economies and societies, to close the investment gap and ensure we seize the opportunities of these twin green and digital transitions.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: The EIB's investment report shows that European companies have increased investments in things like innovation, energy efficiency and supply chain diversification. However, the report also warns that there is a risk that corporate Europe is going to be divided, going forward. What is the issue here?

Nadia Calviño, President of the European Investment Bank: It is clear that companies have to think twice about undertaking some of the necessary investments. There is very high uncertainty and geopolitical tension that is also limiting the appetite, the risk appetite of corporations. And that is why the EIB has an important role in de-risking investments.

When we invest in green hydrogen or a circular battery factory, we are really making this project possible because we bring with us other public investors, but also private investors that see the role of the bank as a very important element of de-risking, but also technical analysis. We rubber-stamp, to a certain extent, that this is a viable project. This is a good project and that is mobilising private investment.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: You mentioned geopolitical tensions. A lot of people in Brussels and in the EU capitals fear the return of Donald Trump to the White House. Are you among them?

Nadia Calviño, President of the European Investment Bank: 2024 is an important year from the perspective that billions of citizens around the world are going to go to the polls, are going to vote and decide what future they want for their lives and their children, including the EU.

We have the European elections coming up soon, and all these elections are certainly going to have a large impact on our destinies. But most importantly, I think the European elections should lead to a strong unity of Europeans and a solid commitment to remain together and to respond together, united and in a determined manner to the challenges around us. Because that has proven to be throughout history, the right way forward.

The EIB and the capital markets union

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: One key policy in Brussels and in Europe is competitiveness. And let me bring this up in connection with a good old goodie of EU policy ambitions, with a long shelf life, and that is the capital markets union [CMU]. A few days ago, the Council and Parliament agreed to review market infrastructure rules. Are you confident that this could come to a conclusion this year?

Nadia Calviño, President of the European Investment Bank: This is an area where I've been working in for many years. You know, I have a lot of experience in dealing with financial regulation. Capital markets union was already one of our top priorities 15 years ago, 10 years ago. And so, I hope that in the next mandate, we will be able to have an updated legal framework in this regard.

But, in the meantime, as president of the European Investment Bank Group, I have already launched a number of workstreams in the House to see how we can be pioneers of some of the financial instruments that can form the building blocks of this actual capital markets union.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: You just started your term here at the EIB in Luxembourg. Where do you want Europe to be in six years?

Nadia Calviño, President of the European Investment Bank: Well, that's a very difficult question to reply to because who knows what can happen in the coming six years. Just looking back and thinking what we've been through with the pandemic, the war, inflation. I really hope that going forward, we are able to respond in an efficient manner to the challenges that will surely come our way.

I hope that we have restored peace on our borders and that we can, you know, looking back, think that this was only a short period where so much war and destruction was surrounding the Union. And I hope that we will also see a strongly united, deeper, more integrated economy and society within our European Union and of course, prosperity, welfare and happiness for our kids and grandkids.