Philippe Maystadt: Lending a hand in Euroland
Philippe Maystadt, president and chairman of the board of directors of the European Investment Bank, speaks to Euromoney's Mark Brown about the bank's lending policies, criticisms from the European Parliament and the bank's response to EU enlargement.
Who does the EIB lend to? Today we very rarely lend directly to central governments, though we did 20 years ago. The reason is obvious – they can finance themselves in the markets on similar and sometimes better terms.
Can the EIB monitor the money it lends through its global loans scheme effectively? Rapporteur Mónica Ridruejo queried this in her draft report to the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee (Emac). The ultimate goal of global loans is to bring finance to both SMEs and municipalities. I mention both because in the draft report we were criticized for the fact that less than half our lending through global loans goes to SMEs. That shouldn't be a surprise.
Another controversy surrounds the position of EIB directors who are involved with the commercial banks that administer the EIB's global loans. How are you addressing this? We have a clear code of conduct that is signed by every member of the board. Directors must abstain from discussion of any project in which they have or could have an interest. At the beginning of every board meeting I ask if any board member has any conflict of interest to declare on any item on the agenda.