The governing bodies of the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) have discussed its strategic and policy priorities, with a focus on Ukraine’s membership. Noting that the process is well advanced, CEB members states agreed, as a tangible sign of support, to relieve the country from any payment requirement for accession to the Bank. A swift formal decision on financial conditions for Ukraine’s accession does not prejudge the discussions on future activities of the CEB, including in Ukraine, and related considerations on the Bank’s financial resources, which will be taken in the context of the upcoming Strategic Plan (2023-2027).
The CEB Administrative Council approved five new loans worth €465 million, with the majority of the funds dedicated to supporting refugees from Ukraine in CEB member countries. At the same time, the CEB Governing Board appointed Sandrine Gaudin to the post of Vice-Governor for Financial Strategy, and Johannes Böhmer to the post of Vice-Governor for Social Development Strategy.
“The new loans respond to the most pressing needs of our member states, with a clear focus on helping them manage the refugee crisis caused by the war in Ukraine,” said CEB Governor Carlo Monticelli. “As for the appointment of the new vice-governors, I want to congratulate Ms. Gaudin and Mr. Böhmer. I am convinced that thanks to their solid professional experience they will help the CEB deal with the many challenges that lie ahead, and will provide me with invaluable support to carry out my duties.”
In addition to aiding refugees from Ukraine, the newly approved CEB loans will be used to finance social housing for low-income persons and improvements in municipal infrastructure, and to enhance access to finance for community organisations, voluntary and social enterprises.
In Germany, CEB’s € 200 million loan to the state development bank of North Rhine Westphalia will partially finance the NRW.BANK’s Refugee Accommodation Programme, which will help municipalities finance the acquisition, construction and modernisation of accommodation for persons fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. The loan will finance both temporary and permanent accommodation to achieve a more inclusive integration of refugees into host communities.
In Lithuania, the CEB will provide a €120 million loan to the Government to offer assistance to those fleeing the war in Ukraine through emergency service delivery and humanitarian measures. The loan will be used by relevant ministries and communities providing frontline support, mainly in the form of financial assistance and/or cash payments for education, health and social care. The beneficiaries are potentially 30,000 individuals from Ukraine, including 13,500 children in 2022, whereas some 700 students are expected to benefit from scholarships financed through this loan.
Another loan in Lithuania - €25 million to the Kaunas City Municipality - will partially finance investments to improve the quality of life in the city and surrounding area. The project will help address challenges caused by the changing demographic and labour trends in the Kaunas municipality, including more than 10,000 registered refugees from Ukraine. The authorities have been providing the refugees with accommodation, food, psychological and social assistance, education for children and job search for adults.
In Ireland, CEB’s €20 million loan in favour of the Social Finance Foundation (SFF) will help increase access to affordable finance for the country’s community organisations, voluntary and social enterprises. This is particularly significant at a time when these organisations are playing a critical role in addressing socio-economic challenges in the context of the COVID-19 recovery. Established in 2007 by the Irish Government, SFF focuses on providing loans and risk-sharing opportunities to those organisations that experience difficulties in accessing mainstream financial institutions. This project is expected to be supported by the InvestEU guarantee programme, enabling the CEB to increase the amount of the loan.
In Spain, CEB’s €100 million loan to Institut Català de Finances aims to support the region’s efforts to increase the supply of social housing rental stock. In accordance with the long-term territorial Housing Plan of Catalonia, the loan will finance up to 1,600 affordable housing units and will thus reduce the waiting list of social housing seekers. At the moment, there are 84,000 social housing applications. Given the social relevance of this project and its alignment with the policy objectives of the European Union, this loan is expected to be retroactively supported by the InvestEU guarantee programme.