EIB president Werner Hoyer and EESC president Staffan Nilsson met in Luxembourg on 19 December.
They called for accelerating investments in the EU to facilitate structural change, and to put the EU economy on the path to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and strengthen EU competitiveness as defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Long-term investment can significantly boost growth in times of crisis and constrained public budgets combined with private deleveraging. Unprecedented levels of investment are needed in areas such as infrastructure, SMEs, innovation and skills, energy and efforts to tackle climate change.
The EESC strongly supports the actions of the EIB, which makes long-term finance available for investment in the real economy and in projects in key sectors that contribute to a job-rich, competitive and inclusive sustainable EU.
With its tailored products the EIB can address the needs of specific sectors, helping to make the most of existing resources and attracting additional private sector financing from capital markets), which is crucial given the strain on government budgets. Werner Hoyer and Staffan Nilsson and therefore advocate a strong European budget for 2014-2020.
Staffan Nilsson welcomed the focus on projects with the greatest impact in terms of growth, employment, economic cohesion and climate action. The EESC has also called for a European "new deal" for growth, which would focus on major targeted projects in a few key sectors that are able to get the EU economy moving again in a relatively short period of time.
Both the EIB and the EESC agreed on the need to strengthen the EIB's relations with civil society: civil society, especially business groups, provides valuable input in exploring ways to develop SME policies because of its understanding of local problems, needs and expectations. The EIB would therefore welcome stronger links to the EESC in areas of common interest.