EIB Board Discusses Transparency, Offers Some Reforms

21 July 2004

The European Investment Bank Board of Directors has taken some steps toward disclosing some additional documents and more financial information about by key bank officials.

The 25 specific changes were announced by the board in mid-June in a nine-page document that pledges to reach "a high level of transparency of its activities." The bank did not officially amend its October 2002 Information Policy Statement, but promised a thorough review in late 2004.

In some cases, the list includes things the board says will be considered, such as whether to have further public consultation on selected policies. Other items state general goals, such as, "EIB will seek to make accounts information as comprehensible as possible."

In other areas, however, the board on June 15 endorsed fairly specific proposals by the EIB’s Management Committee. President Philippe Maystadt made some of the suggestions in a statement at the EIB annual meeting June 2.

The board’s concurrence came in the wake of the Bank’s successful lobbying in the European Parliament this Spring to scuttle recommendations for more transparency and for numerous corporate governance reforms.

Financial Disclosures by Officials

More financial disclosure by directors and top members of management was one of the proposals made by Spanish Parliamentarian Monica Ridruejo, who did not stand for re-election in the recent election.

The board approved some steps in the direction of personal financial disclosure. Slightly more biographical information will be provided by directors and members of Audit Committee. In addition, members of the Management Committee will make a declaration of financial interests "based on" the model used by members of the European Commission.

Other promises include: announcing personnel changes on the major EIB bodies, "timely" information of decisions by the Board of Governors, and the publication of codes of conduct applicable to sensitive positions, a new "Dignity at Work" policy, and other staff-related materials.

In addition, details of remuneration of the members of the Board of Directors and the Audit Committee will be disclosed. More financial information on the Management Committee is also planned, as are enhancements of the data about staff remuneration.

The board also said it will publish a new annual report on corporate responsibility.

Among miscellaneous "housekeeping issues," the board agreed to publish its procurement rules for administrative expenditures and detail its charity spending.

Accounting Information

There is the promise of more frequent accounting statements contained in a series of proposals to release more information on finances and "controls and evaluations." These include, "as from 2005" the publication of "a half-yearly summary [of] consolidated non-audited balance sheet and profit and loss account." The board said it would release the annual report by the Audit Committee. Some of the planned disclosures include the board’s forthcoming decision on measures to combat fraud and "more extensive information on credit risk and market risk policies."

The board also said it would disclose "framework agreements with partner countries." A search on the EIB web site suggests that very few, only 10, framework agreements have been described in press releases, and they have not been fully disclosed.

Changes for Project List

The EIB made some changes that could result in more projects will be listed on the Project List.

The board said all public sector projects will be included, as will projects for which tender procedures have been published or for which a public environmental impact assessment process has been announced. As before, the placement of private funding projects on the lists will depend on whether the promoter has commercial objections.

Many entries on the Project List come on or very shortly before the date of project approval.

Visitors Welcome

The bank announced an open door policy for groups of visitors on June 24, stating, "The EIB receives visitor groups on written demand, acceptance is decided on a case-to-case basis."

In a July 7 release, the EIB disclosed, "The President of the EIB and Vice Presidents today met with the Chairman of Transparency International, Professor Dr. Peter Eigen, for an exchange of views on best practice and new initiatives for combating corruption in international business. This was followed by a lecture of Professor Eigen to EIB staff on "Combating the Curse of Corruption"

By Toby J. McIntosh

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Filed under: IFTI Watch

ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
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