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EIB's Pavlova says green financing bringing unprecedented opportunities (interview)

Ljubljana, 13 February (STA) - Talking about the European Investment Bank's (EIB) plan to unlock a trillion euros in green financing in the coming years as part of the EU's green deal, EIB vice-president Lilyana Pavlova told the STA that "we are looking at an exciting decade full of unprecedented opportunities for Slovenia, the EU and the whole world".

"The EIB will make a truly quantum leap in our ambition to be the climate bank," Pavlova said, while pointing out that since 2012, the bank had already provided EUR 170 billion of finance supporting over EUR 600 billion of investment in climate action and environmental sustainability projects.

She announced the EIB will gradually increase the share of its financing dedicated to such projects so that their share will reach 50% of operations in 2025. "By the end of 2020 all of our financing will be aligned with the principles and goals of the Paris agreement," she said.

According to Pavlova, Slovenia will have a lot of opportunities in energy efficiency investments, in particular for building renovation.

"Slovenia has a lot to offer here. Your company Resalta is steadily growing into a regional leader as an energy efficiency solutions provider, and the City of Ljubljana already benefits from cooperation with the EIB on increasing energy efficiency of buildings."

She highlighted energy decarbonisation projects, as the aim is to meet a 32% renewable energy share throughout the EU by 2030.

"I understand that with its unique mix of energy sources Slovenia is already very close to this target. But we can do more, not just with renewable electricity, but also production of low carbon gas (e.g. hydrogen, biogas) or renewable heat (biomass, geothermal)."

The EIB will look to support innovation and innovative decentralised energy production, energy storage and e-mobility projects, Pavlova added, pointing out innovation also boosted competitiveness.

She highlighted projects integrating new, variable energy sources like wind and solar, as well as projects strengthening cross-border interconnections.

Pavlova went on to point out that there will be no country allocations and that the EIB will finance proposals on project-to-project basis.

"Countries will be able to create as much projects as they can or need, and they can count on the EIB advisory support in project preparation phase too."

She said cooperation between EIB and Slovenia has been good, highlighting the role of the SID exports and development bank as "maybe the best example of the potential Slovenia has to attract EIB financing", as well as of EIB's partnership experts.

"All this makes me confident that the future of our cooperation in Slovenia looks bright," Pavlova said.

The EIB started cooperating with Slovenia in 1977. Since then it has signed 123 loan agreements and invested EUR 6.99 billion in Slovenia. It has supported 5,000 businesses and more than 44,000 jobs in the country.

The EIB opened an office in Ljubljana in 2016, a decision Palova said had benefited both the bank in Slovenia.

In the last five years the bank invested EUR 1.23 billion in Slovenia, which makes it one of the biggest investors in the country. Last year investment tripled compared to 2017, amounting to EUR 248.4 million.

Today, the EIB and Slovenian national motorway company DARS are signing a EUR 90 million loan contract for the construction of a second tube of the Karavanke tunnel, a vital transport link with Austria.

"That means that we are already at one third of the EIB lending volumes for 2019 and its only February," Pavlova said, suggesting the EIB's role in Slovenia could grow further in the future.

"We certainly hope to have a bigger role in development of Slovenian economy, job creation, innovation and climate action in Slovenia, to name just a few sectors.

"I see the EIB as a key partner in the country's plans to increase the competitiveness of its economy, develop infrastructure and create economic opportunities from the transfer to a carbon neutral economy," she said.

Meanwhile, touching on the impact of Brexit on the EIB, which is owned by EU member states, she said "we will miss the UK not only as a shareholder, but as a reliable partner for our projects inside and outside the EU".

Pavlova said the EIB had worked hard to make sure that the departure of one member state would not weaken the EIB's mission and performance. Thus, the bank's capital base has been strengthened, with outer countries chipping in proportionally and Poland and Romania even deciding to participate in an additional, asymmetric capital increase.