Nadia Calvino: Ireland is a success story of what EU membership can bring

The European Investment Bank has provided €1.6bn to finance a diverse range of projects in Ireland, from student accommodation to home energy upgrades to major infrastructure projects

Last year, the European Investment Bank Group provided a record €1.6 billion in new financing in Ireland. This is helping companies innovate, expand and create skilled jobs. It is providing new homes, increasing renewable energy generation and supporting education.

As the financial arm of the European Union, we are putting the money and mobilising private investment where our shared priorities are.

For example, we are supporting all nine universities in the country, including through the development of the new Cork University Business School and new student accommodation at Trinity College Dublin.

We are also investing significantly in housing, which is a challenge in almost all of the member states of the EU. And we are accompanying industry and households in their green transition. This is done through individual projects, from small venture capital investments in cleantech start-ups to large infrastructures, such as the Celtic interconnector with France or the deployment of offshore wind.

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And through financial support to broader programmes like the roll-out of 2.4 million smart electricity meters to support the energy efficiency of every farm, home, and business in Ireland, and the new €500 million low-cost Home Energy Upgrade Loan Scheme, which helps homeowners enjoy warmer homes with cheaper energy bills, retrofitting the existing stock and thus contributing to huge cuts in carbon emissions.

Climate change is the challenge of our generation. The good news is we have the means to meet this challenge

There is a lot of talk about the twin digital and green transitions, which have accelerated exponentially as a result of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. These transitions pose challenges, of course, but they also open up great opportunities. If we get it right, we can make our economies more productive, benefiting from the latest technologies and at the same time working and living in a more sustainable world, reducing our emissions and protecting ourselves against future shocks by reducing our dependence on carbon fuels.

This is not a plan for the future. It is a present necessity to ensure our security and strategic autonomy. It really is a no-brainer.

Climate change is the challenge of our generation. The good news is we have the means to meet this challenge. And building on its dynamic ecosystem of start-ups, research institutions, and multinational companies, Ireland can pioneer effective and affordable solutions that we could scale up at EU level.

Some 80 per cent of investments made by the EIB Group in Ireland in 2023 are supporting the green transition towards a more sustainable, more productive economy.

Working closely with government agencies, and also Irish business and financial partners, the EIB Group can provide its know-how where it is most needed

And this is precisely what citizens expect from public bodies, be they national or European institutions: to listen to them and do their best to deliver security, stability, confidence, growth and prosperity, building a better future for younger generations.

I am more convinced than ever that strategic long-term investment in key infrastructure, innovation and a more productive economy is the right and the smart thing to do. This means building and upgrading large-scale energy, transport, digital networks, as well as our housing, health and education capacities.

Addressing housing shortages and combating climate change are pressing issues for almost all European countries today. And the European Investment Bank Group has a key role to play in tackling them in an efficient and effective manner.

Working together, we can make projects happen that would be unthinkable without the financial support of the EU.

We are investing significantly in housing, which is a challenge in almost all of the member states of the EU

Our discussions with our Irish partners have provided us with a clear roadmap for future joint investments in key sectors. This reflects the effectiveness of our partnership and ensures that our investments are focused to deliver. In the coming months, our teams will be working on bringing major new projects to fruition in housing, water, climate and environmental action, transport, education, innovation and digitalisation.

Working closely with government agencies, and also Irish business and financial partners, the EIB Group can provide know-how where it is most needed: for example, in structuring complex financial instruments, assessing cutting edge and high-risk innovations, scaling up existing technologies and making sure that this financing is directed at where it will have the maximum impact in good, solid projects.

Nadia Calviño is president of the European Investment Bank Group

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