(EurActiv) — Spain is one of the main beneficiaries of the Juncker Plan, according to European Investment Bank Vice-President Román Escolano, after a year in which the EU bank focused on financing SMEs.
Despite not knowing the 2016 balance of payments, Escolano revealed that Spain is among the main recipients of funding in absolute terms related to GDP, at an informative breakfast organised this week by the Spanish Maritime Cluster.
Escolano added that the Baltic countries, as well as member states in the east and south, have also done well in terms of mobilising resources.
The EIB chief also highlighted how his institution signed off on projects worth some €83 billion last year, which especially targeted small and medium-sized enterprises.
He added that this was somewhat of a “novelty” for the bank, but that it was an exercise aimed in “alleviating” problems faced by SMEs in securing financing, particularly those on the EU’s periphery.
It was also involved in environmental projects as a part of Europe’s climate change and infrastructure policies, which again was new ground for the bank.
The EIB has also financed a number of projects outside of the EU, but which are intended to contribute to the bloc’s policies, and they make up about 10% of the operations being financed each year by the bank, to the tune of some €8bn.
In terms of the Investment Plan for Europe, otherwise known as the Juncker Plan, projects worth some €30bn have been financed, reaching the halfway mark of the €60bn that has been earmarked for the whole program.
Escolano insisted that progress has been “satisfactory so far”, noting that investment has been targeted principally at SMEs, research and development, and transport.
The vice-president also added that “the EIB is the main multilateral bank in the world” and that it is something to be valued at a time when the European Union as a whole is being questioned.
On Brexit, Escolano would only say that the United Kingdom currently holds a 16% stake in the bank and that it has €50bn in outstanding loans.
Unlike countries like Germany and France, the UK does not have a state bank that funds development projects at home.