Britain still wants funding from the EU’s investment bank after Brexit, David Davis says

The bank pours billions into British infrastructure every year

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Wednesday 06 September 2017 15:20
Comments
Brexit Secretary David Davis addresses the Commons on progress made with EU negotiators in Brussels
Brexit Secretary David Davis addresses the Commons on progress made with EU negotiators in Brussels

The UK’s Brexit negotiators still want Britain to have access to funding from the EU’s investment bank after the country leaves the bloc, it has been revealed.

Brexit Secretary David Davis says Britain’s objective in negotiations will be to maintain an “ongoing relationship” with the European Investment Bank despite Brexit.

The Bank, which is the biggest multilateral borrower and lender in the world, has funded £31.3 billion of for infrastructure spending, entrepreneurship and development in the UK over the last five years.

The EIB describes itself as “representing the interests of the European Union member states” and makes no profit on its activites, which are aimed at enacting EU policies like European integration and cohesion.

Britain was the fifth largest recipient of EIB loans in 2016, with most funding going to upgrading infrastructure like water, transport projects, or energy.

The bank’s funding is the latest benefit of EU membership the UK is seeking to retain despite planning to leave. Last month Britain published a series of position papers that included a plan for the UK to stay involved in shaping some kinds of EU regulations despite leaving the EU.

The announcement by the Brexit Secretary comes week after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the consequences of leaving the EU did not appear to have been considered in “sufficient depth” in the UK and that he saw a certain “nostalgia” in British negotiating positions for the bloc’s benefits.

EU exit talks have been difficult so far

Labour MP Seema Malhotra, who sits on the House of Commons Brexit Committee, had asked Mr Davis on Tuesday whether the UK would stay a member of the bank.

“What specific discussions has the Secretary of State had on the EIB, is he committed to doing all he can to seek for the UK to remain a member of the EIB after we leave, or does the government plan for us to leave and can he guarantee that withdrawing will not have a negative impact on investment in the UK and on our economy?” she asked.

Mr Davis replied that the UK was “looking to maintain that ongoing relationship” with the bank.

“What she failed to say as well is that the British economy has been more successful than more others in obtaining investment from that source,” he said.

“So far the discussions have only talked about departure arrangements … When we get to the point of talking about the ongoing relationship I think that we will be looking to maintain that ongoing relationship.”

The largest chunk of the EIB's loans to the UK, around 30 per cent, go to energy projects; the second largest chunk are on sewage and waste disposal. Other areas that benefit significantly include transport and telecoms, education, and health. As an EU member state the UK is currently a shareholder in the bank.

The EIB does currently lend outside the EU, but generally does so in line with the EU's foreign policy objectives: mostly pouring cash into pre-accession countries that could one day join the EU, or providing support for the EU's poorer southern and eastern neighbours.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in