The European Parliament today voted on legislative proposals aimed at changing the mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with a view to extending its area of operation beyond Central and Eastern Europe and enabling it to give funding to North African countries. The Greens are strongly in favour of the EU proactively supporting democratic and economic transformation in North Africa but are opposed to using the EBRD for this end. The group believes European institutions, like the European Investment Bank, should instead be used by the EU to support change in the Arab Spring countries and the wider region. Speaking after the vote, Green MEP Philippe Lamberts (Belgium) said:
"The EU should be doing all within its power to support the promotion of democratic and economic change in North Africa but doing so through the outdated EBRD is the wrong approach to take.
"There are a number of institutions better placed to support change in the region, whether at European level - for example the European Investment Bank (EIB) - or at international level - for example the World Bank. We should be focusing on maximising the efficiency of our support through these existing institutions rather than creating multiple structures, which undermine the effectiveness of our aid.
"The EBRD is a fossil of a bygone era. It lacks any form of democratic scrutiny, unlike the EIB and the World Bank. It also has a record of supporting unsustainable projects in the countries in which it works, with recent evidence showing its support for projects promoting fossil fuels is increasing (1).
"For these reasons, the Greens opposed changing the mandate and believe EU governments should also rethink the proposals."
(1) See the report by NGO Bankwatch: http://bankwatch.org/sites/default/files/EBRD-energy-tug-of-war.pdf