What the EU has done for us

Nadia Calviño
Tuesday 4 Jun 2024

The EU, in short, is a shining success story. Not only has it brought prosperity, peace, stability, and social progress to a large European community; it also has become a force for good in the world.

 

This month, hundreds of millions of voters will head to the polls for the European Parliament elections, and many will ask what the European Union has done for them since the last election, in 2019.

The fact that 27 countries choose to pool their sovereignty and build an economic, social, and political partnership based on the shared values of peace, justice, respect, and solidarity is unique in global history. It is a triumph that we should not take for granted, especially when so many people around the world still yearn for the freedom to choose their government from a diverse array of candidates and parties.

At a time when the geopolitical ground is shifting, the global order that we helped build – and which has served us well these past 80 years – is being put to the test. Nonetheless, our greatest challenges – whether they concern security, health, digitalization, or climate change – are still ones we share and that require cooperation to address. Europe’s own experience shows that we are stronger together, and that we can succeed when we act according to three principles: unity, determination, and solidarity.

Our shared experience since the last European elections attests to the value that the EU adds to our daily lives. When an unprecedented pandemic hit, every citizen had access to life-saving vaccines, and the pooling of economic and financial resources had a remarkable impact.

For example, the European Central Bank provided liquidity to protect our financial systems; the European Commission’s SURE (Support to Mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency) program helped countries protect jobs throughout the EU; and the European Investment Bank’s European Guarantee Fund complemented national support systems to protect small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and the broader business ecosystem. Even now, the Recovery and Resilience Facility is promoting the reforms and investments needed to achieve a strong recovery, and to drive the green and digital transitions.

The EU, in short, is a shining success story. Not only has it brought prosperity, peace, stability, and social progress to a large European community; it also has become a force for good in the world. It is a leading source of humanitarian assistance and development finance, a strong advocate for the multilateral institutions that maintain global financial stability, and a major supporter to the world’s most vulnerable countries.

I am proud of the EIB Group’s instrumental role in delivering these results. With €22 billion ($24 billion) of paid-in capital, we have been able to mobilize more than €5 trillion in investment. This financing has gone to support top-notch transportation and energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools, SMEs across the EU, highly innovative technologies, and many rapidly scaling startups, thus contributing to the green and digital transitions and reinforcing our strategic autonomy and security.

To name just a few recent examples, the EIB Group has supported vaccine development in the EU with a loan to BioNTech, the company that delivered the breakthrough mRNA platform at the height of the pandemic. We are also financing the largest solar-panel factory in Italy, the first circular-production battery gigafactory in Sweden, and large offshore wind farms in the Baltic and Nordic regions. And we have funded an innovative chip manufacturing plant in France, efforts to decarbonize heavy industry in Germany, new green hydrogen projects and infrastructure in the Iberian Peninsula, and an upgrade to Poland’s electricity-transmission network.

Since its creation in 1958, the EIB Group has financed EU policies and evolved to respond to European needs. I am convinced that we are currently financing the technologies that will be the building blocks of an efficient net-zero economy, and which will be instrumental to accelerate digitalization and innovation. But we are no less determined to support European agriculture, help our industries seize existing opportunities, strengthen European competitiveness and strategic autonomy, and address challenges such as housing costs (an important issue for people in most EU member states). Given the EIB Group’s track record, I am convinced that we will also play an important role in supporting the next phase of EU enlargement and in amplifying Europe’s voice in the world.

The turbulent five years since the last European elections show us that we need more Europe, not less. We need the EU for our security, stability, and prosperity. With populists promising easy solutions and calling for less solidarity, we must remember what the EU is doing for us every day.

A new geopolitical order is emerging, and the foundation of Europe’s success is being put to the test. Our decisions at the ballot box will determine the EU’s priorities and role in the world at a crucial moment in world history.

I believe this election should be a vote of confidence in Europe and the principle of solidarity. We must strengthen the institutions that have long ensured our own peace and prosperity, and which remain a beacon and a force for good in the world. Let’s defend our European values. Let’s focus on what truly matters. Let’s appreciate what the EU means for security, welfare, and prosperity throughout all member states. And then let’s use our vote!

Nadia Calviño is President of the European Investment Bank.

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