Think of all the major projects that surround us – new technologies, social housing, hospitals, public transport, universities, elderly care. They all start with an idea. They all get off the ground with the right advice.
Advice from the right people at the right time ensures projects are smarter, are completed quickly and achieve first-rate quality. The advisory services of the European Investment Bank (EIB) help the decision-makers speed up the route to financing and ensure that projects are implemented to high standards.
Advisory services are a key element of preparing, developing, structuring and implementing sound and financially viable investment projects.
This is true across Europe and is one of the main ways to extend the Bank’s reach to underexplored areas and sectors.
Unrelenting fight against climate change
While the war in Ukraine was at the forefront of people’s concerns, the fight against climate change did not stop.
Climate action has been a key part of advisory work, with almost two-thirds of the Bank’s advisory activities targeting climate action and environmental sustainability. The Green Gateway continues to grow. This platform is our unique new advisory tool to help financial intermediaries boost investments in climate change mitigation, adaptation and environmental sustainability. Green Gateway support to financial institutions and other intermediaries helped unlock €3.3 billion in EIB lending.
Each year, the climate challenge grows more daunting. We experience changes in average temperatures, shifts in the seasons and extreme weather, which cause many fatalities and a lot of destruction to property and land. We need to learn new methods to better respond to these changes. This is called “climate adaptation,” and can be done, for example, by building flood defences, setting up early warning systems for cyclones, or switching to drought-resistant crops.
To help government authorities, businesses and financial institutions adopt climate adaptation measures, the Bank’s advisory services, through the ADAPT platform, offer bespoke support, training and knowledge sharing throughout all stages of a project investment cycle.
In Poland, for example, we helped a water supply company understand where its investments would make the biggest difference in protecting infrastructure against climate-related damage. Similarly in Greece, we helped the government plan better public investments to make city buildings and other infrastructure more resistant to climate change and improve water supplies and flood management.
Unlocking renewable energy and energy efficiency
In 2022, as a chapter was closing on the COVID-19 pandemic and attention turned to recovery, a new crisis erupted on Europe’s doorstep. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reordered the geopolitical landscape, sent ripples through the global economy and sparked an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
In Europe, the energy crisis has revealed the vulnerability of energy supply systems and has left government and corporate investment budgets exhausted. This comes at a time when we should be investing more to combat climate change and to wean ourselves off Russian oil and gas. The events of 2022 prove that decarbonisation is the only reliable path to secure, affordable energy for Europeans.
EIB advisory services support projects to boost investments in renewable energy and innovative technologies in many areas, including green hydrogen. Advisory services help explore the potential for innovative power purchase ventures, where energy producers and buyers agree to green energy supply and prices over a long period, in exchange for upfront investments to build and operate solar or wind farms. Thanks to this experience, the Bank’s advisory services can play a key role in supporting the transition to affordable, secure and sustainable energy.
Helping innovators obtain financing
Innovation is the beating heart of human progress. New ideas and technologies will give us a greener future. To help businesses become digital, stay competitive and boost economic growth, the EIB offers a wide range of advisory services, from improving access to finance for space sector industries and quantum technologies to low-carbon technologies that help Europe meet its carbon-neutrality goals. From the digitalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises to new financing opportunities to counter cybercrime.
Our experts work hand in hand with innovative companies and research and development institutions. We help these young firms build strong business cases for their projects and structure their investments to make sure their ideas have a lasting future and can get approval for loans or other financing.
We analyse markets and specific sectors to identify barriers that prevent companies from getting loans and recommend solutions to tear down these financial roadblocks. We give decision-makers the tools they need to make financing available to small and medium companies across Europe.
We enter into partnerships with innovators, companies, investors and other institutions to develop market studies targeting underexplored and innovative areas of investment and economic growth, such as gender-smart investing, digitalisation, space infrastructure and new technologies.
Over 60% of the 329 approved assignments supported specific investment projects in key sectors such as sustainable transport, energy efficiency and renewable energy, construction, water and wastewater, lowering global temperatures, preserving biodiversity, protecting our oceans and adapting to climate change. These are only a few examples of how our advice helps society and the environment.
Advisory assignments approved in 2022 by country
Advisory assignments are prioritised mainly in Cohesion regions, where greater support is needed to meet Europe’s climate action and social inclusion goals.
Sharing our knowledge and expertise helps our clients develop new markets and enhances their ability to complete successful investment projects across the whole European Union.
Through the social lens
Social inclusion enables everyone to play a part in society, regardless of income, age, gender or ethnicity. EIB advisory helps private and public institutions reduce social and gender inequality, improve access to finance for female-led companies and open more doors for women to participate in the investment community across the European Union.
Closing the gap on social and gender inequality is an integral part of EIB advisory support, ensuring that the infrastructure we build and the world we live in are safe for women and vulnerable groups. To help public authorities build inclusive transport and urban infrastructure, the EIB offers a wide range of financial and technical advisory services.
For example, our advisory experts helped Barcelona prevent harassment and enhance safety for women, the LGBTIQ+ community and vulnerable groups on city buses and the metro system . Our support allowed city authorities to offer enhanced measures such as more campaigns for harassment prevention, specific training for public officers to handle challenging situations, bolstering surveillance systems, and improving lighting in public spaces at bus stops, foyers, platforms and metro connecting corridors. Safer and more inclusive transport encourages more people to use public transport, which reduces carbon pollution and helps cities meet climate goals.
PackBenefit: Appetite for plastic innovation
Imagine the weight of a billion elephants. This is equivalent to the 8 300 million metric tonnes of plastic produced since large-scale production began in the 1950s.
Plastic is accumulating in seas, oceans and on beaches in the European Union and worldwide. Turtles, seals, whales and birds get entangled in our plastic waste or ingest it.
To cut plastic pollution, the European Union introduced a ban in 2021 on single-use plastics, including plates and cutlery. The ban, paired with a change in people’s habits driven by the negative image of plastics, created a gap in the market and became a significant business opportunity for food packaging companies.
Operating from its commercial site in Valladolid, Spain, PackBenefit is an innovative producer of compostable and recyclable food trays made from wood-based virgin pulp. Virgin pulp is paper made directly from the pulp of trees or cotton. The company’s trays can be used in the oven, microwave and freezer, in temperatures between -30°C to 150°C - better than plastic trays.
As demand for its products increases, PackBenefit plans to build a second manufacturing plant close to its current site, with more innovative features, tripling its production capacity. It is also boosting research to offer more innovations to its clients.
European Investment Bank advisory experts helped PackBenefit prepare and structure its investment for these projects and ultimately receive a €13 million venture debt loan from the Bank.
The new production plant, financed by the EIB venture debt agreement alongside equity from Circularity Capital and third-party loans, will enable the company to manufacture an additional 180 million trays per year, greatly reducing the food-packaging industry’s use of plastic.
It’s not just about carbon neutrality
Growing populations and cities increase the impact of climate change and put more pressure on everyone to reduce their carbon footprint. The transition to a net-zero carbon economy could cause millions of jobs to disappear, and people will need training as they look for new work. They may need to relocate. Regions and cities that depend on fossil fuels will have to be redesigned quickly to use green energy. Changes in societies and new ways of working will force cities to keep redefining urbanism.
Chrzanów, in southern Poland, is a former industrial city that is redefining itself. Most of the region’s heavy industry has left and created opportunities for new businesses: research and development, manufacturing, logistics and service companies.
These new jobs and Chrzanów’s proximity to Kraków and Katowice, important growing urban centres, have forced the town to adjust its infrastructure and make changes right from the centre.
“The centre of Chrzanów, close to the market square and the rail and bus stations, is traditionally the heart of our town,” says the mayor of the city, Robert Maciaszek. “This area has enormous potential.”
With EIB advisory support, the city authorities were able to develop a state-of-the-art regeneration plan. The city centre will have a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable neighbourhood, with a high quality of life and good connections to nearby towns and the wider region.
The neighbourhood will be one of the first eco-districts, or sustainable urban districts, in Poland. It will include a new bus station at the bottom of a multifunctional building and public space, 200 new apartments, a modern market hall with a city greenhouse, new cinema halls, office spaces, green courtyards and several hundred new trees.
The buildings have been designed to accommodate people of all ages, with minimum energy use. The designs use circular economy principles and consider local architectural and urbanistic traditions. The project is being built to adapt to the needs of elderly people and residents with disabilities, limiting social injustices and exclusion and setting a new standard for other parts of the city.
“Sustainable, ecological construction is another step towards improving the quality of life. I’m glad that the European Investment Bank saw this potential and helped us make this project a success,” Maciaszek says.
The advisory support helped structure the project so that the eco-district would be financed by multiple sources, benefiting from urban investment mechanisms set up by the European Commission, the EIB, national partners and the government.
A watertight case for clean shipping
At the beginning of the 20th century, products that had to travel long distances in Lithuania were often transported on the country’s largest river, the Nemunas, which connects the port of Klaipėda in the west with Kaunas in the south, almost 300 kilometres away.
As roads were built, transportation mostly moved to land, and transportation by water became obsolete. Going back to water transportation and using fewer trucks would reduce pollution and help Lithuania move forward in the green transition.
To resume this type of shipping without using fossil fuels, the Lithuanian Inland Waterways Authority plans to use electric barges on the Nemunas. Each round trip made by the barge could save over 100 truckloads.
At full capacity the service is expected to reduce the number of trucks on the roads each year by over 48 000. Cutting truck traffic will also make roads safer and reduce accidents.
Using electric vessels is innovative and climate friendly but also brings challenges. Most importantly, the authority will have to install electric charging stations and cranes at ports, and the stations will have to be connected to the power grid.
Projects like these come with many questions for experts. How many barges are needed? What is the best way to charge them? What is the best way to operate an efficient shipping service?
The European Investment Bank’s advisory services identified a barge design that would work well in the shallow waters of the Nemunas and provided guidance that enabled the authority to form a full picture of the project. This helped government officials make an informed decision and move ahead with the project.
EIB experts not only looked at the technical aspects of using electric barges, but also researched how this project would help the Lithuanian economy and the environment. They identified how it would cut greenhouse gases and air pollution, reduce road congestion and accidents, lower noise pollution and improve biodiversity.
Cybersecurity: A wise investment
Internet use, cloud-based solutions, connected devices and other online services have increased consistently over the past two decades. While cybersecurity capabilities and awareness seem to be improving, the threat and sophistication of cyberattacks are still growing.
Greater investment in cybersecurity is more important now than ever. The cybersecurity sector is essential for building a resilient, green and digital Europe.
EU cybersecurity companies struggle to get loans and other financing to expand their businesses, because they are often considered high-risk investments. While the European Union has many promising and innovative cybersecurity companies, some are relocating to other parts of the world, partly because Europe lacks the specialised venture capital funds the firms need.
EIB advisory services examined the European cybersecurity market and the needs and demands for financial and non-financial services to support the sector’s growth. Advisory experts recommended setting up a new fund to support cybersecurity, increase the amount of finance available to these fast-growing companies and attract more investment from the private sector.
Making the most of an EIB loan
Whether you need to finance a new truck, an aircraft, an MRI machine or solar panels, Société Générale Equipment Finance (SGEF) can help.
The European Investment Bank lends money at favourable conditions to SGEF, which then offers smaller loans to many clients, primarily small and medium-sized companies in sectors such as transport, agriculture, renewable energy and manufacturing.
SGEF also offers leases in cooperation with vendors and equipment dealers, to help companies renew their equipment in an affordable way and grow their businesses.
To receive and lend money from the Bank, SGEF must comply with green eligibility rules applicable to intermediated lending products, following the principles of the EU taxonomy for sustainable activities.
To help SGEF staff and clients understand these rules fully and generate projects faster and more efficiently, the EIB’s advisory services offered training and process improvement advice through the Green Gateway advisory platform.
Under this advisory assignment, the EIB experts provided on-the-job support to SGEF front office staff, to help them identify and prioritise sectors and project types with strong potential to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and environmental sustainability.
SGEF staff received operational guidance on sector specificities, as well as support in assessing actual projects to help them build a green pipeline in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The advisory team produced operational recommendations and manuals based on SGEF’s specific needs and trained SGEF employees on topics such as assessing investments under EIB green requirements, using the EIB Green Eligibility Checker and aligning with the EU taxonomy.
Opening up Ukraine’s exports
Ukraine used to grow enough food to sustain 400 million people a year. In mid-2022, with the Black Sea route closed because of the war with Russia, 20 million tonnes of grain were trapped in Ukraine. This drove up cereal prices, created food shortages globally and put at risk the livelihoods of millions of people who rely on these grains.
In response to the crisis, the European Commission introduced Solidarity Lanes, a new transport initiative to improve rail and road links during the war. The initiative offers Ukraine alternative routes for agricultural exports and facilitates the shipment of essential products, including fuel and humanitarian assistance.
These transport links have become a lifeline for Ukraine’s economy, bringing desperately needed income to Ukrainian farmers and businesses.
But with growing demand for transport and no end in sight to the war, the Solidarity Lanes are getting overcrowded. Transport costs and waiting times at border crossings are increasing, and many border areas need to be upgraded to handle the traffic.
JASPERS, the Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions initiative, is helping Ukraine, Moldova and bordering EU members to develop investment projects to enable more traffic to cross the border. This advisory work will help to decrease waiting times, improve transport infrastructure and add access routes.
JASPERS’s advisory support is also helping these countries and regions to prepare investments that will improve railway connections, including in some areas where the infrastructure was damaged in the war. This will enable faster transport and increase train capacity.
The lifecycle of a wooden crate
Arriving at the market square, a farmer unstacks fruit and vegetable crates from his van and sets up his stall. As the last clients finish their purchases, he throws away the wooden crates that are no longer in good condition. Little does he know that these old, broken crates will be transformed into Italian designer furniture.
Saviola Holding is an Italian company that participates in the circular economy by making chipboards and furniture out of recycled wood. Crates, pallets, broken furniture, and garden clippings enter Saviola’s premises to be cleaned, separated, and pressed before being transformed into new, 100% recycled wood panels.
Each year, the company collects and processes enough old wood to fill the Rome Colosseum 30 times over. Its products save almost 3 million trees each year, equal in surface to the city of Rome.
The European Investment Bank provided a €115 million loan to Saviola to help make production more environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
To make the most of the EIB loan and get on the right track to make its production process greener, Saviola turned to the Bank’s advisory experts. External consultants and EIB experts analysed the emissions inventory of the company’s production systems and supply chain and advised Saviola on setting targets to reduce emissions in the medium and long term.
This will enable the company to develop a decarbonisation plan in line with the EIB PATH framework. The framework ensures that the Bank’s borrowers and the projects it finances are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The EIB’s financial and advisory support has enabled the company to reach the next level of decarbonising its production processes. This means that your next purchase of Italian designer furniture will have made the most of recycled wood, with minimal impact on the environment.
Building better homes
Europe’s buildings tell a rich story of cultural development and diversity. But many of these buildings are old and use too much energy.
More than 220 million buildings in the European Union, about 85% of the total, were built before 2001. These constructions often rely heavily on fossil fuels for heating and cooling and use old technologies and wasteful appliances.
Throughout the pandemic, the home was the focal point of daily life for people everywhere: bedrooms became our offices for teleworking, living rooms were our children’s classrooms, and kitchens were our restaurants.
Renovating homes to be more energy efficient offers a unique opportunity to rethink, redesign and modernise buildings for a greener and smarter future.
At the beginning of 2022, the European Local Energy Assistance programme (ELENA) provided a €2.6 million grant to a residential energy rehabilitation project run by Unión de Créditos Inmobiliarios, a Spanish bank specialising in sustainable housing financing.
The programme provides technical assistance to help homeowners develop energy assessments. It also offers financial and implementation support for multi-apartment buildings.
ELENA’s support will help implement renovation investments in almost 4 000 apartments in more than 180 building blocks in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville.
The modernisation of these apartments will include new insulation, new windows and glazing, more efficient heating and cooling, indoor lighting, and solar panels. Over three years, the renovation of these buildings is expected to reduce energy consumption by 50%, lowering homeowners’ utility bills and helping the environment.