The European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group, composed of the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund (EIF), announce increased cooperation to implement the new EU Sustainable Blue Economy policy.
Both institutions will work jointly with the EU Member States to meet existing financing needs to reduce pollution in European seas and support investment for blue innovation and blue bio-economy.
“There can be no Green Deal without a sustainable blue economy. Oceans are an incredible resource of renewable energy, food, and innovative medicines and solutions, and host many economic activities constituting the blue economy. But our seas and oceans are also fragile ecosystems that need our protection,” said European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius.
“To achieve a climate-neutral, circular, and clean blue economy in the European Union, we need to channel finance so that the projects contributing to the Green Deal can take off the ground. This is what our partnership with the EIB Group will contribute to doing,” said European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius,” he added.
“Preserving the health of our oceans is key to tackle the climate challenges. Oceans are essential for our economic prosperity, but most and above all for our own existence. The European Commission Communication issued today is important guidance to turn our oceans into a sustainable economic resource,” said European Investment Bank’s Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix.
“The EIB is eager to join efforts with the European Commission to foster access to financing for projects that will improve the quality of our oceans and biodiversity, in particular by reducing pollution, by recycling and reusing plastics, so that we can ensure a better future for all. It is key that our green strategies have more blue in them. The EIB and the European Commission are together in building it forward not only green but also bluer,” he added.
“Healthy oceans and coastal areas are vital for our societies and the future of our planet. They also provide the basis for economic activities that generate growth and jobs. I am delighted to join forces today with the European Commission,” said European Investment Fund’s Chief Executive, Alain Godard.
“Together we will prepare a framework and offer solutions for equity and guarantee funding to stimulate investments in blue innovation and blue bio-economy. We will build on our already successful collaboration, notably through the BlueInvest fund, which combined with additional private capital will help to drive Europe’s Blue Economy agenda,” he added.
Reducing pollution in the European seas
The European Investment Bank and the European Commission will align efforts to reduce pollution in European seas, especially in affected areas such as the Mediterranean Sea.
The European Commission’s new Zero Pollution Action Plan aims to reduce pollution from nutrient losses and chemical pesticides by 50% and to reduce plastic litter at sea by 50% and micro-plastics released into the environment by 30%, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean Sea.
The European Investment Bank is financing operations aimed at reducing the discharge of chemical pollutants, nutrients, plastic waste, and microplastics to the ocean. It supports improved waste, wastewater, and stormwater management while bringing significant expertise in project preparation, implementation, and financing.
Both institutions will carry out a comprehensive market study and identify investable projects for pollution avoidance and reduction, such as biodegradability, recycling, and re-use along the entire plastic value chain. They will offer solutions to increase access to financing, including through risk reduction facilities, provision of equity or loans, grants, all aimed at incentivizing private and public financiers to provide additional liquidity to such projects.
Investment for blue innovation and blue bio-economy
The European Investment Fund and the European Commission will jointly prepare a framework to stimulate investments in blue innovation and to implement the Farm to Fork and bio-economy strategies.
Targeted areas include, among others, innovation in the blue bio-economy, production, and marketing of sustainable seafood and algae products, as well as sustainable maritime tourism and environmental solutions.
The EIF and European Commission will jointly develop solutions for equity and guarantee funding. It will provide Member States’ Managing Authorities with ways of matching their national resources with funding from relevant European funds, in particular, the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) through financial instruments and blending operations. As part of the proposed measures under the framework, the EIB group in particular through EIF would provide market testing and expertise in product structuring, private fund-raising, and mandate implementation.
The EIF is managing the BlueInvest Fund and is financing businesses in the blue economy sector via equity funds selected earlier this year.