The European Investment Bank’s ‘Quantum Leap’ to Become the World’s First International Climate Bank

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

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The European Investment Bank’s ‘Quantum Leap’ to Become the World’s First International Climate Bank

  • Helen Kavvadia Institute of Political Science, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

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Abstract:  In November 2019, the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced its ‘metamorphosis’ into a ‘Climate Bank.’ Associated with the EU’s Green Deal, presented a month later, the EIB claimed to be the first international climate bank and a front runner in the EU’s priority climate agenda. The EIB is mandated through the treaties to support EU policymakers. However, with its ‘makeover,’ the EIB also announced the launch of a new climate strategy and energy lending policy, ending fossil fuel financing after 2021. It is thus valuable to examine the question of whether the EIB has developed into a policymaker, and if so, how this can be best understood. In exploring this question, this article follows a principal-agent approach, attempting to discern the rational interests behind organisational rhetoric and posits that the EIB’s claimed transformation hints at a type of policymaking activism, exploiting a policy window to serve the EIB’s rational interests in a strained political and market contest. This represents a paradigm shift in the EIB’s institutional behaviour and rhetoric within the EU governance constellation and is, in fact, in this sense a ‘quantum leap’ as suggested by the EIB. However, it remains to be seen if the bank’s metrics will prove a bold departure from their current activity or simply another adaptation to a policy field of intense interest to the EU, as has occurred on several occasions in the past.

Keywords:  climate change; climate finance; European governance; European Green Deal; European Investment Bank; European Union



© Helen Kavvadia. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.