Closely Guarded EIB Framework Agreements Appear Largely Technical

19 June 2009

The European Investment Bank is proposing to disclose Framework Agreements only with the permission of the country partner, but the agreements appear to be largely technical and legal documents, judging from a very old one supplied by the Bank and a more recent one obtained by Freedominfo.org.

The Bank’s reluctance to disclose the Framework Agreements (FAs) has surfaced as the EIB conducts a public consultation on a proposed revision of its current disclosure policy. The Bank has suggested very few changes in its policy.

The two Framework Agreements reviewed, with Argentina and Albania, are about the same length, four and five pages, respectively. The agreement with Argentina (in Spanish) supplied by the EIB dates to 1993. The one for Albania is from 1998.

Although described by the Bank as documents that “set the general conditions under which the EIB may operate in a certain country in support of investment projects,’’ FAs are unlike “country strategies” used by some other international financial institutions (IFIs) that assess a country’s status in broad strokes and suggest a strategy for lending.

Rather, the Framework Agreements deal with more technical issues related to EIB activities, assuring that the Bank can borrow funds in the country and is not subject to taxation in the country. The agreement with Albania ensures that the EIB and beneficiaries of EIB lending may convert currency.
 
Albania commited to ensuring that projects it finances are treated no less favorably than those backed by other IFIs and that Albania “shall extend to each Project full and constant protection and security against expropriation and strife….”  

Other provisions in the 15-article agreement deal with settlement of disputes, subrogation, cooperation, the term of the agreement, and communication.

The EIB is proposing to let the recipient governments decide whether to release Framework Agreements. The EIB has proposed a paragraph (54) specifically about them. The Bank said it will disclose them “on request” unless the country concerned is “formally opposed to such disclosure.”

However, even the Agreements that have been disclosed are not available on the EIB site.

The official who provided the Argentinean FA, said “you can find other [FAs], i.e., Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Venezuela in the different Official Journals of the corresponding Latin American Countries.’’

She further indicated, “The Bank has disclosed FAs upon request, on a case by case basis after receiving consent from the authorities concerned. To date, the EIB has not published any FAs in its website. In general terms, these are normally published in the different Official Journals of the corresponding Country following their ratification by the country’s competent authorities/parliaments.’’

 

By Toby McIntosh

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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).
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