EU investment bank sees no new projects in Greece

The EUs investment bank said Monday it sees no need for new projects in Greece, focusing its efforts elsewhere to get the European economy back on track.

Greece is desperate for investment as it tries to renegotiate a painful bailout programme with its international creditors, pressing them to give Athens more leeway to boost the economy.

“For the moment, I do not see any new projects,” European Investment Bank head Werner Hoyer said as he released the EIB’s 2014 annual report.

The EIB already had “quite significant” exposure to Greece at 16.9 billion euros, equal to more than nine percent of the country’s annual economic output, Hoyer said.

“This is a very high number,” he said, stressing that it was “a ‘no-go area for this bank to go into weak projects.”

Hoyer said he wished Athens well it its bid to get a new deal with its creditors, saying Greece had made huge progress since he grew up there as a child when it was ruled by a “bloody dictatorship.”

European Union leaders approved an ambitious investment plan in December worth 315 billion euros which the EIB will manage to give the economy a much-needed boost between now and 2017.

Hoyer said there was plenty of investment capital available but companies and banks were unwilling to take on any additional risk after the painful lessons of the 2008 global financial crisis.

The EIB would identify projects, aiming to give them its seal of approval and so encourage the private sector to take the plunge, he said.

“We need to enhance growth and boost employment in a sustainable way. Our objective is not profit.”