EU Parliamentary Committee Rejects Criticisms of EIB

13 April 2004

A committee of the European Parliament on April 6, 2004 rejected virtually all of the criticisms of the European Investment Bank by Spanish delegate Monica Ridruejo.

According to supporters of Ridreujo, the Economic and Monetary Committee (EMAC) "completely watered down" the Ridruejo proposals for good governance, transparency and accountability at the EIB. Ridruejo voted against the final committee package, calling the changes "unfounded."

In a statement, Ridruejo said, "An MEP limited amendments to the transmission of EIB arguments to cover up its deficiencies. Other MEPs seem not to conceive that EMAC can exercise a real control over the EIB."

Defending herself against EIB rebuttals, Ridruejo said in her statement: "No data suggests my Draft is inaccurate. None contradicts Draft denunciations on EIB´s serious management, transparency and accountability deficiencies. None suggest improvements to recommendations proposed, to correct them. In fact, there has been no debate on its content. Most amendments are based on the idea that the priority is to keep a friendly dialogue with EIB, even if at the cost of permitting EIB to keep using the fiction of parliamentary control as guarantor of its practices."

She continued: "I believe MEPs must promote the construction of a solid, efficient and transparent Europe, defending citizens’ interests, without bending to lobby pressure. Having information on irregularities and not denouncing them makes one an accomplice. Detecting issues needing substantial improvement, without recommending clear actions to correct them, is not fulfilling EMAC objectives and undermining European citizens’ confidence in the Parliament. I do not want to appear as accomplice of this attitude. I withdraw my name from this Report."

In an e-mail to freedominfo.org, Ridruejo commented, "You will see that the resulting text is very much watered down and lack the sort of comments which I found fundamental to provide my support and to assume responsibility for the final report."

Activists Recount Meeting

As reported in an account by CEE Bankwatch Network, Friends of the Earth International, and Reform the World Bank Campaign: "Five members of EMAC tabled 125 amendments. The amendments asked for the complete deletion of 14 of the report’s 32 paragraphs. Leading the way, MEP Robert Goebbels (PSE, Luxembourg) wanted to delete 28 out of 32 paragraphs. MEP Olle Schmidt (Liberals, Sweden) who during today’s session claimed he is for transparency, asked for deletion of roughly half of all the paragraphs including those asking for more transparency on the EIB and its management."

Magda Stoczkiewicz, leading the EIB reform campaign for CEE Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth International, reacted: "It is extremely alarming that the European Parliament has voted against all of the recommendations calling on the EU house bank to live up to international governance and transparency standards." She also said, "Important paragraphs requiring the EIB to adopt internationally accepted rules on good corporate governance or to publicly disclose salaries, allowances and other earnings of its Board of Directors and senior managers were not acceptable to EMAC members."

The groups called the meeting "very short" and without "real discussion." They also recounted: "The tense atmosphere was not helped by EMAC chairwoman Ms. Randzio-Plath accusing Ms. Ridruejo of offending other members of the committee. While claiming that it was not Ridruejo but other members of EMAC who introduced the issue of governance and transparency into EMAC’s discussions, Ms. Plath led a vote which ensured that none of the original report recommendations on transparency and good governance survived in the final version."

Martin Koehler, from the Italian Campaign to Reform the World Bank, commented, "What MEP Ridruejo demanded of the EIB could have been drawn from a corporate handbook. No shareholder in a private company would object to such demands, and no corporation would do less in order to make its shareholders remain confident. It is hard to understand why European Parliamentarians should object to such demands. Are they afraid of the EIB? If so, we need many more critical reports on this shadowy organisation."

Documents

Ridruejo’s annotated summary of the committee’s changes

Statement by Monica Ridruejo

Final Report of the European Parliament, Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on the activity report for 2002 of the European Investment Bank

By Toby McIntosh

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