In 2023, France surged to the top position among the countries benefiting from European Investment Bank (EIB) financing dedicated to combating climate change and mitigating its effects.
The loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) have always been particularly popular in France. With nearly €12 billion invested in businesses and local authorities in 2023, an increase of 16% compared to 2022, it ranks second among the European Union countries that benefited most from EIB loans. Following Italy (just over €12 billion) and ahead of Spain (around €11.5 billion).
However, France takes the European lead in beneficiaries of climate financing, with €6.9 billion, accounting for 64% of the total loans granted by the EIB. The investments from the EU’s financial arm also emphasize innovation, which represents 36% of the volume of loans allocated in France in 2023. Climate and innovation, sectors that are “not incompatible” and thus intersect, as highlighted by Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the EIB, during the presentation of the bank’s annual results in France on February 1st in Paris.
“What the projects of the EIB have in common is that they contribute to improving the daily lives of Europeans and promoting European independence,” says Ambroise Fayolle. In France, the EIB has focused on investing in strategic sectors for European sovereignty to achieve the objectives set by the EU.
An example is the semiconductor industry, which is central to the “Chips Act.” This recent legislation aims to reduce the EU’s dependence, particularly on Asian markets, in this field. In 2023, the EIB granted a loan of €750 million to the company Global Foundries to finance the construction of a chip gigafactory in Crolles, Isère. This contributes to the goal of increasing the EU’s production capacity to 20% of the global market by 2030.
Another key sector for Europe in which the EIB invested in France in 2023 is batteries. In Douai, in the North of France, the EIB financed a gigafactory for the company AESC-Envision. This factory is expected to produce batteries that will power 200,000 vehicles produced by Renault starting in 2025. Once again, the EIB is helping to realize European ambitions. Batteries are crucial for the ecological transition, especially as the EU has decided to ban the sale of new combustion engine vehicles by 2035.
The ecological transition also involves the energy sector, where the EIB made notable investments in France in 2023. For example, a loan of €250 million was granted to Soregies, a group of local energy companies based in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, to develop renewable energies and modernize distribution networks. This contributes to the EU’s climate objectives of carbon neutrality by 2050, as well as to REPowerEU, the EU’s plan to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels by 2027.
On its part, in 2020, the EIB set a goal to allocate 50% of its investments, both in France and elsewhere, to combating climate change and mitigating its effects by 2025. This target was significantly exceeded at the European level in 2023, with this share reaching 60%, and even 64% in France.
Concrete Europe Serving Europeans
Other investments by the EIB are more immediately noticeable in the daily lives of citizens, what Ambroise Fayolle calls “concrete Europe serving Europeans.”
In 2023, the EIB notably lent one billion euros as part of the Grand Paris Express to finance Line 15 of the Paris metro. Scheduled for completion by the end of 2025, it will serve 22 municipalities over 33 kilometers and benefit one million users in the Paris region.
Other essential sectors have also received support from the EIB, such as housing, with 500 million euros in loans to the Caisse des Dépôts group for the construction of social housing. Additionally, education has been a focus, with a financing of 170 million euros for the construction of secondary schools in Haute-Savoie and the thermal renovation of educational establishments.