European Investment Bank lent €1bn to Irish projects in 2017

Bank ready to provide more funding for social housing

EIB vice-president Andrew McDowell (r) pictured in 2017 signing off on funding for a social housing project in Beaumont with Simon Coveney. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

EIB vice-president Andrew McDowell (r) pictured in 2017 signing off on funding for a social housing project in Beaumont with Simon Coveney. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Europe’s long-term lending institution, the European Investment Bank (EIB), provided more than €1 billion worth of financing to Irish operations in 2017, a pipeline it anticipates could be matched this year.

The organisation funded a raft of projects in 2017, including support for the National Children’s Hospital, a redevelopment of the Port of Cork, and a long-term loan to National University of Ireland Galway. The National Children’s hospital was the biggest beneficiary of EIB funding, after gaining backing of €490 million.

Last week, the EIB agreed a €30 million loan to support research and development by a Galway-based medical technology company, Aerogan.

Owned by European Union member states, the EIB last year provided total funding of €79.2 billion in financing for projects both in Europe and around the world.

Its vice-president, Andrew McDowell, told The Irish Times the bank is now looking to go further in Ireland by providing funding to small to medium enterprises and agri-businesses to help mitigate against Brexit risks. Even with Brexit risks, Mr McDowell noted that Ireland is a “very attractive location for EIB financing”.

Worst-case scenario

“Even in a worst-case scenario, Ireland takes a big hit from Brexit and varying estimates have been that that knocks the Irish growth rate to 50 per cent above the EUaverage so, even in those circumstances, we think it’s manageable,” he said.

Additionally, the bank is gearing up to help finance more social and affordable housing. “We have been having discussions with Minister Murphy and his department...what we’re doing is showcasing how we finance social and affordable housing all over Europe,” Mr McDowell added.

The EIB already funds housing projects in a number of locations and Mr McDowell noted the Irish government could “learn a lot about what we see going on in other European countries”.

The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe welcomed the €1 billion funding in the Republic last year, saying that it is “supporting transformational investment to improve lives and enhance economic opportunities across the country, including backing investment in sectors most vulnerable to Brexit”.

“The Bank of the European Union is clearly delivering on commitments to enhance public and private sector activity in Ireland and I look forward to discussing how the EIB can further support the government’s capital expenditure programme,” he added.