Statement by the Minister of Finance Mr. Christos Staikouras at the online press conference with the President of the European Investment Bank Dr. Werner Hoyer and the Vice President of the EIB Mr. Christian Kettel Thomsen

I would like to welcome the President of European Investment Bank, Dr. Werner Hoyer, and the Vice President Mr. Christian Kettel Thomsen, in the Ministry of Finance.
I would like to thank them for our excellent cooperation, as confirmed in the extensive discussion and the fruitful meeting we had, last week, in Luxembourg, before the Annual Meeting of the EIB Board of Directors.
A Meeting where I noted the excellent operational and financial results of the Bank, as well as its key role in the recovery and development of the Greek economy, based on 4 pillars.

1st pillar. The high engagement of EIB Group in Greece, which reached the record of 2.8 billion euros in 2020.
Indeed, EIB Group financing in Greece represented, last year, the 3rd largest engagement in the EU, as a percentage of national GDP.
Furthermore, the 4.3 billion euros of new financing approved by the EIB for Greece – which consists a historic high for EIB's contribution in Greece and is almost three times higher compared to 2019 – guarantees that the EIB will further strengthen its role as a key technical and financial partner of Greece.
This new record of approved financing represents 2.5% of the Greek GDP and will be dedicated to further supporting a resilient recovery, promoting important investment schemes and supporting liquidity provision in our country’s real economy.

2nd pillar. The EIB’s contribution to dealing with the pandemic and its support to the EU’s sustainable economic recovery.
I would like to emphasize on the establishment of the Pan-European Guarantee Fund, which has been operative since October 2020, and has already approved funding of about 15 billion euros guarantees to support mainly SMEs.

3rd pillar. The increasingly active role of the EIB in the green and digital transition.
Indeed, 45% of EIB financing in Greece, last year, will directly help to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to a changing climate.
Moreover, the EIB provided 1.2 billion euros for energy investment in Greece and the Group’s dedicated Investment Team provided technical expertise for 13 projects in our country.
So, we are grateful to the EIB for financing an increasing number of Green Projects in Greece.
Nevertheless, I would like to point out that some kind of flexibility on the ambitious EIB Climate Change targets is also needed, in order for high priority projects in Greece in Education, Health, Road Safety (e.g. the VOAK project), as well as in the private sector, to be delivered.

4th pillar. The EIB’s significant efforts for the deployment of the RRF resources. Efforts that we applaud.
Indeed, on April, 12th, the European Investment Bank and the Greek Ministry of Finance signed an MOU on the management of up to 5 billion euros as part of Greece’s implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, known as “Greece 2.0”.

Next step is the preparation and signing of the Operational agreement between the EIB and the Greek Ministry of Finance, expected within September 2021.
It is the first agreement of this type between the EIB and a member-state.
Via this agreement, the EIB will utilize RRF Loan Facility for on-lending to private investments.
RRF loan facility will cover 40%-50% of each investment, while remaining financing will be potentially covered by EIB’s financing and sponsors’ equity.

Greece has already worked hard to cease the unique opportunity offered by the RRF resources, as reflected in the approval of our National Recovery and Resilience Plan by the European Commission, last week.
This Plan is realistically ambitious, modern and outward-looking, underpinned by structural reforms, efficient public investment and important private sector participation.

It will act as a catalyst for reorienting our economy to a new, innovative, competitive and socially just productivity model.
The main axes on which our Plan is focusing include investment and reforms, among others, to achieve efficient use of energy, to upgrade networks, to make sustainable use of resources, to achieve climate resilience, to digitalize public and private sector, to promote job creation and participation in the labor market, to improve accessibility and sustainability of healthcare, to increase access to effective and inclusive social policies, to enhance social cohesion, to make fiscal policy more growth friendly, to improve tax administration and tax collection, to improve the efficiency of the justice system, to strengthen the financial sector and capital markets, to promote endogenous sources of growth – like education, vocational education and training, research and innovation, to promote exports, and to improve the business environment.
Greece will benefit from the EIB’s technical, economic and financial expertise in identifying high-impact projects and effective structures, which will significantly contribute to make the best use of the RRF funds.
Furthermore, the EU bank may offer financing, alongside the RRF resources, for some of the projects that will be examined and appraised by its experts.

To conclude, the Greek government is particularly impressed by the level of EIB engagement in Greece and the fact that there is a dedicated Investment Team for Greece.
Indeed, the European Investment Bank reconfirms that it is an invaluable partner in our effort to respond to the health, social and economic challenges of our time, while forming a solid base to systematically increase the disposable income, to close the investment gap and to create many new, high quality jobs in Greece.

Last but not least, I would like to point out that Europe has dealt with the economic effects of the unprecedented health crisis in a timely and effective manner.
And the role of the EIB has been crucial in this effort.
However, we still have challenges ahead of us.
We are called upon to deal with them collectively.
Once more, we acknowledge that the EIB has been in an excellent position to act as a catalyst for meeting those challenges successfully.