Corruption, Fraud and Mismanagement in the EIB Nov99

Madam President,

Mrs.Ruhle has produced an excellent Report on this subject.

I am the newly appointed Rapporteur for the EIB, the European Central Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development. I agree with the amendments proposed by Mrs.Ruhle as they express clearly real concerns about the EIB´s transparency, efficacy, accountability & conformity with the Community´s objectives & policies. I will address briefly t each of these concerns:-


  1. There is widespread concern about the EIB´s transparency. My predecessor from the Socialist Group, Mr.Freddie Blak, Mrs.Ruhle the author of her Report, many members of Parliament, and  the Court of Auditors have all expressed their opinion on lack of transparency in the operations of the EIB. Even the World Bank and the East European NGO called Bank Watch have publicly stated this view.
  2. Let me turn to efficacy. Mrs.Ruhle states the need to evalue the effectiveness of EIB operations. I, as the new Rapporteur for the Bank,  requested Sir Brian Unwin, the President of the EIB, for an initial meeting to set out a framework to assess the efficiency of the Bank. I am sorry to report that Sir Brian has not even bothered to ring me or arranged to meet, despite numerous telephone reminders! Such disregard for this new European Parliament,  will erode, yet again, public respect and confidence in the European Union.
  3. What about public accountability? In May 1999, my predecessor, Mr.Blak, Vice President of COCOBU, asked 26 specific questions about alleged fraud, mismanagement, corruption and cover up in the Bank´s activites, including in the Treasury operations,  over the period 1993-1998. The questions are specific, detailed & relevant. They require a written reponse from the Bank . I have requested Sir Brian for such a response but once again he has chosen to ignore my request! I have been told by Mr.Maarti, one of his Vice Presidents, that the EIB is owned by the Member States and as such, according to the Treaty, it is not  an EU institution obliged to respond to the European Parliament, the Court of Auditors or OLAF. Only matters relating to loans to non-EU countries where the Community gives loan guarantees can be discussed with Members of Parliament. I ask: who are these Member States? Are they not the Governments of the people who live, work and pay taxes in the countries that we call Member States? Are we not,as the only elected representatives of the people of these Member States, expected to safeguard the interests of these people who live in the Member States? Does the Treaty specifically forbid the European Parliament from having access to information? Certainly not! Therefore, if the EIB is confident that it functions well and has nothing to hide then why is Sir Brian Unwin, its President, denying access to the Parliament, Court of Auditors and OLAF? Clearly, the Treaty needs to be amended to specify such access in bold print and I suggest that those involved in the IGC will take note. Clearly, there is support for this as ECOFIN in their meeting in Helsinki on the 8th October, 99 re-inforced its previous criticism of the EIB management and performance by directing it to open its doors to OLAF and the Court of Auditors. I have seen the Decision taken by the EIB to this directive from ECOFIN and Paragraph 5 & 6 of this Decision confirm that the EIB is still resisting free access. The EIB is suggesting that cases of fraud, mismanagement, corruption and cover up brought to its attention can only be investigated by its own Head of Internal Audit and this internal report will be handed to OLAF! In other words, OLAF will have to wait outside the door of the EIB without  free access to documentation! Such a challenge to ECOFIN and the European Parliament by appointees of Member States must not be allowed. Such a management should be told in simple language: you have been asked to SERVE – not to undermine the authority of Member States and Parliament. I  hope the EIB will appreciate that co-operation, transparency, and public accountability are common aims of all EU institutions and these criteria of good practice apply to the EIB just as much as to other EU institutions!