The European Investment Bank (EIB) said Wednesday that its annual financing to Greece as well as the budget earmarked for future investment plans in the country reached record levels in 2020.
The Luxembourg-based institution said that 2.8 billion euros of new support for high-impact private and public investment across Greece was last year agreed between the EIB, the European Investment Fund (EIF) – whose mission is to help Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) access finance – and Greek partners.
Meanwhile, EIB said it green-lighted future investments of 4.3 billion euros.
Officials said financing in Greece last year represented the third largest engagement in the European Union as a percentage of national GDP. At the same time, EIB financing in the country represented the second largest per capita engagement in the bloc.
During 2020, financing from the EU’s investment bank was primarily aimed at helping Greek companies navigate the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, speed up transition to renewable energy sources and improve road safety.
“The 2.8 billion euros of new EIB and EIF financing agreed last year helps Greek companies – and, mostly, small and medium enterprises – to overcome the Covid-19 challenges and supports energy transition, climate action and investment in infrastructure,” Christos Staikouras, Greece’s finance minister and EIB governor, said during a videoconference on Wednesday.
“Furthermore, the EUR 4.3 billion of new financing approved by the EIB for Greece – which consists a historic high for EIB’s contribution in Greece and is almost three times higher compared to 2019 – guarantees that the EIB Group will further strengthen its role as a key technical and financial partner of Greece,” he said.
Werner Hoyer, President of the EIB, said the bank was committed to “supporting high-impact and transformational investment” across the country.
“EIB and EIF experts are learning from pioneering projects in Greece and sharing global best practice to help investment in Greece to deliver more. Looking ahead the impact of future EIB Group activity will be further strengthened by the record approval of new projects,” Hoyer said.
“The close partnership between Greece and the EIB Group is delivering and will be even stronger in the future,” he said.
The Greek economy, badly weakened after a ten-year financial crisis, has been under severe strain due to the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s economy is estimated to have shrunk by more than 10 percent last year after two nationwide lockdowns and a disrupted summer tourist season.