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Joint CSO Submission on the Draft Revised Version of the EIB Transparency Policy

Added 24 Sep 2014
This joint submission, co-signed by Eurodad and several of its members, including ActionAid, Both ENDS and Christian Aid and partners Counter Balance and CEE Bankwatch network, urges the European Investment Bank (EIB) to ensure that its final revised Transparency Policy is more democratic, transparent and effective. 

The signatories argue that the EIB’s current draft version of its Transparency Policy does not adequately reflect key international standards and principles to transparency, as set out in the Global Transparency Initiative’s Transparency Charter for International Financial Institutions. 

More specifically, signatories make the following recommendations: 
  • A second period for making comments should be added to the consultation process. This will allow stakeholders a chance to respond to the Bank’s comments on their original contributions, in November/December 2014, as well to verify the extent to which their comments were addressed in a second draft.
  • It is key that in renewing its Transparency Policy, the EIB recognises and seeks to give full effect to the human right to access information. All EU supported Bank activity is required to be in accordance and coherent with EU development policy (Art. 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy also provide importance guidance following this regard.
  • We call for the Policy to cover both administrative and non-administrative tasks of the EIB.
  • As with the EU Bank, enhanced transparency rules for the governing bodies should replace the currently overbroad exceptions relating to these bodies in the current Policy. For example, more information about governing body meetings should be available, and Board of Directors meetings should be opened to external observers. Documents should be made public well in advance of Board hearings, generally at the same time as they are sent to the Board.
  • Full public disclosure should be the norm, subject only to the regime of exceptions in the policy. When disclosure is denied, the EIB should bear the burden of showing that the information requested falls within the scope of one or more exceptions. All of the exceptions in the policy should adhere to strict standards of harm.
  • The policy should make it clear that final decisions on the release of information will be made in accordance with the EIB’s Transparency Policy (i.e. that Member States and other third parties should not have a veto over the disclosure of information).
  • All exceptions should be subject to a public interest override.
  • The proposal to create a presumption that harm exists in relation to the exception to protect the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits should be dropped and harm should need to be shown, as for all exceptions.
  • Public disclosure requirements should be made part of binding language in all contracts, partnership agreements and legally binding documents between the EIB and others, and a commitment to include such language should be set out in the Transparency Policy.
  • As a public institution with a commitment to transparency, the Bank should not do business with financial intermediaries which refuse to make data on their beneficial owners or their investors publicly available.
  • The new policy should impose a direct obligation on the EIB to provide information to communities affected by EIB projects in a manner and format which is accessible to them. Complete and timely information should be made available at the local level and key information should be produced in an accessible language and form.
  • A mechanism for early public notice should be established. This should require the Bank to indicate how and when it and the borrower will notify a community that a project or programme expected to affect them is being prepared and require that such communications form an integral part of publicly available preparatory project documents.
  • Anyone who believes that the EIB has failed to respect its access to information policy has the right to have the matter reviewed by an independent and authoritative body. The burden of proof in a complaint should be with the EIB, not with the complainant.
  • For both internal and external whistleblowing mechanisms to be truly effective, individuals need to be provided with adequate, clear and accessible information on how to report so-called ‘Prohibited Conduct’, on how whistleblowers will be protected, and to be aware of how the information they report will be dealt with by the EIB.
  • EIB should fully implement IATI by the end of 2015.
  • Formal reviews of the Policy should be undertaken every three years or, at the very least, every five years.
Read the full submission here or click on the download button below.