Top Takeaways from EIB Forum 2024 

Insights for impact from February's European Investment Bank Forum.

Top Takeaways from EIB Forum 2024 

The recent European Investment Bank (EIB) Forum convened against the backdrop of a polarized global context, spotlighting key discussions and messages aimed at enhancing European competitiveness. Attendees from Impact Europe represented the impact investing sector at the forum, providing valuable insights into the pivotal role of impact investing in addressing sustainability challenges. Additionally, we emphasized the importance of crafting fit-for-purpose financial regulations to support these efforts. We engaged with other participants on the topics of EU funding and gained first-hand insights into the future plans of the EIB and European Commission. .  

But we were also there to listen and learn about the latest efforts shaping Europe’s economic and competitive landscape – here’s what we took away: 

Partnerships fuel progress  

  • Partnerships bolster European competitiveness. These include collaborations across sectors and borders and public-private partnerships. 
  • The EIB’s role in promoting public-private partnerships is crucial, but there’s a call for better engagement with private investors.  
  • Establishing a benchmark for comparing different investments would make it easier for investors to make informed decisions, and could also ensure that the investments are being used for their intended purpose and are achieving their stated objectives. This can increase transparency and accountability in public spending. 
  • Government cooperation with various sectors, such as banking and insurance, is paramount for creating a more integrated and efficient financial system that benefits all stakeholders. One example presented at the forum was Belgium’s engagement with capital market unions and banks to address barriers to cross-border capital flows. These discussions covered incentivizing and facilitating retail savers to make informed investments, and also tackled taxation issues, such as the double taxation of cross-border investments, tax evasion and the role of tax incentives in encouraging or discouraging certain types of investments. 

The Multiannual Financial Framework evolves 

The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is the EU’s long-term budget plan. The last MFF covered 2021-2027. The new MFF, according to what we heard at the forum, should address evolving priorities like green and digital transitions. 

  • The next MFF must be mission-driven and align closely with the EU’s political and economic objectives, as acknowledged by the European Commission and EIB. 
  • Critical areas such as digital innovation, skill development and support for dynamic firms, particularly SMEs, should be prioritized.  
  • Stakeholder engagement will be central to shaping the next MFF, emphasizing inclusivity and collaboration. 

Engaging corporates and financial institutions 

  • While corporate investment varies across EU member states, investors raised   concerns regarding weakening investment trends due to economic factors, including tax policies and regulatory environment that can be strict or complex. 
  • The engagement of corporates in the just and green transition is essential, necessitating knowledge-sharing and adaptation to digitalisation. 
  • Discussions focused on how digitalisation can strengthen the competitive advantage of the financial system and real economy. 

Policies get agile 

  • Europe must demonstrate agility in addressing issues before they escalate, emphasizing the need for simplified EU funding and projects. 
  • Flexible policies are sought to facilitate a just and green transition, with an emphasis on bottom-up approaches and stakeholder involvement. 
  • Strengthened advocacy efforts around the EU Blue Deal underscored ongoing commitment to addressing environmental challenges. The Blue Deal is aimed at protecting water resources from climate stress, promoting ocean energies and complementing the European Green Deal. 

Challenges for sustainable procurement 

  • Public procurement stands as a cornerstone of the EU's single market, contributing approximately 14% to the EU's GDP. Nevertheless, there is a notable gap in sustainable procurement practices, encompassing both environmental and social considerations.  
  • Stakeholders at the forum expressed concerns regarding the balance between quality and price, along with some countries’ misclassification of "social enterprises" solely as charitable organizations, which overlooks their significant role in  supplying goods and services to the public sector.  Challenges in assessement of suppliers remains further complicated by a lack of data and standardised best practices. 

The EIB Forum served as a platform for constructive dialogue and collaboration, paving the way for strategic initiatives to enhance European competitiveness amidst evolving global dynamics.  As we approach the European elections, we stand on the brink of an opportunity to drive change.  The discussions the Impact Europe team participated in at the forum has directly informed some of the points on our forthcoming Impact Manifesto, where we’ll call for policy action in support of all impact stakeholders. Stay tuned!