EIB Transparency Policy Called Watered Down

12 March 2015

A new transparency policy by the European Investment Bank is “watered down,” according to public interest groups who followed its development.

The EIB announced its “more user-friendly”new policy on March 10.

Those following the process were pleased that some “dangerous provisions” had been dropped, but overall called it worse than the previous policy.

A statement by nongovernmental organizations said the new transparency policy “has been met with strong criticism from civil society organisations because it would allow the EIB to establish a new presumption of confidentiality to keep secret internal investigations into irregularities such as corruption and maladministration.”

The statement also reported on internal disagreements among the directors:

According to sources within the bank, it is the first time that there was no agreement on the adoption of a final policy proposed to the Board of Directors, illustrating how controversial this new policy is. During the public consultation process regarding the policy, the European Ombudsman’s representative also recommended against including the exceptions on of internal documents.

Xavier Sol, Counter Balance Director, said:

Transparency is widely recognized as a precondition for good governance. The EIB’s new transparency policy comes right before the bank is expected to get Europe’s economy back on track by implementing the Juncker investment plan. The bank’s move towards secrecy might seriously undermine these efforts.

Anna Roggenbuck from Bankwatch said:

The new policy casts serious doubts over the bank’s commitments to improve transparency and may further undermine its already bad reputation given its terrible rankings on the yearly published Aid Transparency Index. A number of cases in the past have shown the bank is very reluctant to proactively disclose proactively information of public interest and only acts under external pressure such as from the European Ombudsman. European citizens deserve a much more transparent and accountable public investment bank.”

Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy, added:

It is most unfortunate that the Bank is moving backwards on this core democracy issue while other international financial institutions have been putting in place much stronger transparency policies. This is particularly ironic given the historic commitment of the European Union and its Member States to openness.

See a critique of the draft transparency policy.

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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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