European Investment Bank (EIB) President Werner Hoyer said the bank could give out loans to fund development projects and stem the number of refugees arriving in Europe.
Hoyer told reporters yesterday (4 April) that there needs to be a “paradigm shift” in development policy to improve living standards in countries that people leave before seeking asylum in Europe.
“We will not be able to stop the war in Syria but there are other causes of migration,” the director of the EU bank said.
According to Hoyer, 90% of the EIB’s business is within the EU. The bank’s shareholders are EU member states, which Hoyer said need convincing before the bank steps up its investment activity outside the bloc.
Hoyer anticipates that member states will likely push back against a plan to shift the bank’s investments to outside Europe.
“They will probably say ‘I think the situation in Europe is not so brilliant that we can divert funds from Europe’,” Hoyer said.
The Juncker plan was launched last year to leverage a predicted €315 billion by 2018 and boost Europe’s ailing crisis-hit economies. Under the scheme, the EIB and the European Commission are backing high-risk loans to fund infrastructure programmes around the EU.
Hoyer predicts that EU member states will soon need to consider changing the bank’s role as a reaction to the migration crisis.
“This is a tough decision that will have to be addressed in the next ten years,” he said.
Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans told euractiv.com in January that the EU executive may launch a version of the Juncker plan to create jobs in North African countries and cut the number of refugees traveling to Europe.
Hoyer named climate change as one of the main causes for migration to Europe.
“You have parts of the world that are going to disappear,” he said.
“The fight against climate change is the fight for people to be able to find a good living at home.”
Development policy is “not only social policy anymore” but should create jobs and address the causes for migration from refugee seekers’ home countries, the EIB president said.
The EIB estimates that the refugee crisis has so far cost Europe between 0.5 and 1% of its GDP. Hoyer said the bank would soon publish a detailed study analysing the costs of the crisis.