EIB Regional Head Maciej Czura on EIB Support for Georgia

Exclusive Interview

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the bank of the European Union, owned by EU Member States.

It is the lending arm of the European Union and, based on its lending volume, the largest multilateral financial institution in the world. EIB is also one of the largest providers of climate finance.

Activities of EIB aim at helping the economy, creating jobs, promoting equality and improving lives for EU citizens and for people in developing countries. The EIB works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy objectives. EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects, which contribute to furthering EU policy objectives.

The EIB Group comprises also the European Investment Fund (EIF), the EIB’s subsidiary specializing in project financing of small businesses and mid-caps. EIF is active in the EU countries and some selected partner countries. In Georgia, EIF implements portfolio guarantees for small and medium businesses under the EU4Business and InnovFin EU Finance for Innovators initiatives. It has been present in Georgia since 2007. Since then, its lending commitment reached some EUR 1.8 billion. EIB opened a Regional Office for the South Caucasus in Tbilisi in 2015.

GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Mr Maciej Czura, Head of EIB’s Regional Representation for the South Caucasus, to find out more.

What are the key sectors of activity of the European Investment Bank worldwide and in Georgia?

EIB focuses on six areas: climate and environment, development, innovation and skills, small businesses, infrastructure, and cohesion. In Georgia, like in other Eastern Partnership countries, EIB’s operations are based on the External Lending Mandate of the European Union, and focus on development of social and economic infrastructure, support to private sector development, in particular small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and climate change mitigation and adaptation. We support projects that are beneficial for both the partner countries and their relationship and connection with the European Union.

Tell us about the recent projects financed by EIB in Georgia.

Since 2007, the EIB has supported operations in different sectors of the economy at a steadily growing pace. Following the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU and creation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Georgia and the EU, the EIB stepped up its support, effectively doubling its lending portfolio in the country. The most recent projects include the East-West highway, as the main part of the country’s transport infrastructure, several municipal infrastructure projects across the whole country, including recovery projects after the 2015 flood in Tbilisi, and numerous operations supporting micro, small and medium enterprises. In the latter case, several operations blended EIB funding with grants provided by the EU under EU4Business and InnovFin initiatives.

What are the prospective priorities of the EIB in Georgia?

The EIB will further support the upgrade of municipal infrastructure in Georgian cities, as well as environmental infrastructure. We are ready to work towards increased unlocking of the renewable energy potential of Georgia, and ensuring its energy security, as well as financing projects related to the digital economy, education, and healthcare.

Development of the private sector, and in particular micro, small, and medium size enterprises, will remain a key objective of the EIB in Georgia, as the private sector that is the key driver of economic growth, job creation and innovation in Georgia. Such projects are particularly important now, due to the worldwide economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The latter has re-organized the development priorities worldwide, in particular in the short and medium term.

What is the current EIB response to COVID-19 crisis in Georgia?

The European Investment Bank Group announced a comprehensive response package to the coronavirus pandemic outside the EU that will provide up to EUR 5.2 billion in the coming months. This financing is part of the Team Europe response and is supported by guarantees from the EU budget. It will both strengthen urgent health investment needs and accelerate long-standing support for private sector investment which reflects financing needs in more than 100 countries around the world, including Georgia.

In Georgia, this support will be translated into the re-allocation of funds towards the immediate Covid19 response in the healthcare sector as well as potential new projects aimed at the long-term resilience of the healthcare system. In the private sector domain, EIB is enhancing its actions supporting access to finance for MSMEs.

04 June 2020 19:31