The rise of public development banks in the European financial architecture for development

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Public development banks (PDBs) have taken the front stage in development narratives and endeavours at the international level and in Europe. The COVID-19 pandemic has further heightened their role in the response to the crisis and recovery process towards building back better and greener, in more inclusive, gender sensitive, transformational and impactful ways.

The recent evolution of the European financial architecture for development (EFAD) has put European public development banks at the heart of the European development finance system in a more open, integrated and coordinated way. By doing so, European PDBs can reach out, under the ‘Team Europe’ banner, to external partners, promoting both impactful development and greater synergies and visibility of the EU actions. PDBs can be critical instruments to promote resilience to shocks and crises (financial, economic, pandemic, climate, etc.) and help both stabilise the economy and foster a more rapid long-lasting recovery, in particular if they can play a counter-cyclical role and help build back better. By providing medium- and long-term finance aligned to the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they can contribute to more systemic transformations, helping build markets and foster innovation for impactful development. By working better together and with other international and local stakeholders, they can also contribute to mitigating risks and leveraging at scale private finance.

Interestingly, beyond development objectives, PDBs are also an instrument of development and economic diplomacy as well as of geostrategic power, promoting core values and interests as part of Europe’s foreign and economic policies, at the EU and national levels, and as illustrated in the case of France, Germany and Italy.

While each PDB in Europe is the result of a specific historical and institutional context, they all tend to have greater prominence in national and EU development processes and foreign policy objectives over the years. Mechanisms have also been established to enhance their coordination at the European level, within the EU framework and between themselves.

The author is grateful to the Elcano Royal Institute and in particular to Iliana Olivié for stimulating and guiding this research as part of its series on PDBs. The research was conducted through the framework of the European Think Tank Group (ETTG), of which both Elcano and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) are members. The author would like to thank the participants of the internal webinar organised by Elcano, and in particular AECID’s Fernando Jiménez-Ontiveros and COFIDES’ Rodrigo Madrazo. This paper reflects the views of the author alone and should not be attributed to any specific institution.


Read the full paper here.

This publication first appeared on Elcano’s site. 

Authors: Sanoussi Bilal, ECDPM.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash.

The views are those of the authors and not necessarily those of ETTG.

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