Since last year, the Covid-19 pandemic has claimed thousands of lives, devastated businesses and delayed priority investment all across the European Union and beyond.
In Greece, the effects of the pandemic have come as a blow since the country’s economy has already faced challenging times in recent years. However, there are also reasons to be optimistic about the country’s future.
The strong engagement of the European Investment Bank – the EU Bank – with the Greek government and public and private partners across the country is delivering important investment that stimulates growth and transforms lives and opportunities.
In fact, the close cooperation between partners across Greece and the EIB’s dedicated Investment Team for Greece and Cyprus (ITGC) based in Athens and Luxembourg, which is marking its fifth anniversary this year, has ensured that the EIB could swiftly tackle new challenges and investment priorities.
On the back of a record year for the EIB Group in Greece, with 2.8 billion euros of new financing provided for public and private investment across the country in 2020, the EIB expects to sign more than €2.5 billion of new financing for projects across Greece this year. This will mean that 2021 will be another record year.
In fact, Greece has the second largest EIB engagement in per capita terms, just behind Cyprus. This will help create jobs and unlock the country’s great potential.
However, it is not just about the financial side and the record figures. What is equally important for us is that the EIB and its subsidiary, the European Investment Fund, are learning from the numerous pioneering projects and sharing global best practice in other parts of Europe.
A good example is the agreement announced in April, whereby the EIB will manage up to €5 billion in the implementation of the ambitious National Recovery and Resilience Plan, known as “Greece 2.0.” It is the first such agreement the EIB has reached with an EU member-state.
We also recently announced that the EIB is providing €400 million to help to scale up the impact of the Hellenic Development Bank’s efforts to ensure that businesses across Greece can access financing, innovate and create jobs, and withstand challenges enhanced by Covid-19. In addition, the EIB and EIF are also partnering with National Bank of Greece to unlock more than €1 billion for Greek businesses impacted by Covid-19.
Going forward, the EIB will help identify investment plans with an emphasis on climate action, energy transition and digital transformation, as well as other projects that will play a significant role in modernizing the country. It is vital to reiterate that the EIB Group has been and will continue to be by Greece’s side. The EU Bank was here before the crisis and it has stayed during difficult times. The recent high-level EIB Group visit to Athens in June – the first since the pandemic began – only reinforces our unwavering commitment to supporting Greece as the country attempts to thrive in the post-pandemic era.
Christian Kettel Thomsen is EIB vice president responsible for Greece.