2016 was an important year for the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB). Not only did the Bank mark its 60th anniversary, but also reaffirmed its focus on its core activity area of supporting refugees and displaced persons, which was an integral part of its mandate when the CEB was established in 1956.
The Migrant and Refugee Fund (MRF) proved to be a very useful instrument for channelling grants to countries receiving migrants and refugees, enabling them to equip reception and transit centres in order to provide refugees with food, shelter, and medical care. In a demonstration of European solidarity, contributions from numerous donors made possible the approval of 14 grants for refugee projects. The MRF, which enjoys the full backing of CEB member countries, is continuing its efforts in the same direction and with the same fervour. Meanwhile, the Bank also supports the social integration of migrants and refugees with its lending instruments.
2016 saw an almost 50% increase in the overall volume of projects approved. The CEB’s annual investment in social projects reached close to € 3.5 billion and focused on areas where there is currently a particular need for support in Europe, namely job creation and preservation, social housing, and public infrastructure.
In 2016, the year of its 60th anniversary, the Bank successfully reached the objectives of its 2014-2016 Development Plan and adopted a new roadmap for action.
The Bank remained financially strong through challenging times and the healthy figures for 2016 attest to this. The CEB’s loan portfolio, worth over € 13 billion, and the stock of projects, amounting to € 5.6 billion, were both higher than the previous year. The Bank raised more than € 3.1 billion in the international capital markets and, at the end of 2016, the net profit stood at almost € 105 million.
In 2016, the CEB maintained and reinforced its partnerships. The European Commission, already a valued partner within the framework of the Regional Housing Programme (RHP), confirmed its endorsement of the programme by committing further funds. Meanwhile, the RHP continued to yield tangible results in 2016. By the end of the year, it had delivered housing solutions to 1 000 vulnerable families in partner countries Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, with over three times more housing units expected to be completed in 2017.
To mark its 60th anniversary, in December 2016, the CEB organised an international conference on the premises of the Caisse des Dépôts Group in Paris on the theme “Challenges to More Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in Europe”. Increasing cooperation with the OECD had resulted a few months earlier in another high-level event, a joint seminar on “The Refugee Crisis: Challenges and Responses for Social Investment”, which was hosted on the Bank’s premises in May 2016.
Thanks to its excellent overall performance, the result of a truly collective effort on the part of all CEB services, the Bank successfully reached the objectives of its 2014-2016 Development Plan and, in 2016, adopted a new roadmap for action, the Development Plan for the period 2017-2019. The focus remains on promoting sustainable and inclusive growth in key activity areas, such as public infrastructure, job creation through support to micro, small and medium-sized businesses, assistance to vulnerable groups, and the integration of migrants, refugees and displaced persons.
The new Plan, along with the revised Environmental and Social Safeguards Policy, will ensure active CEB participation in the global efforts to protect the environment and act on climate change. The revised Loan and Project Financing Policy and the recently introduced Financial and Risk Policy will further support the Bank’s strategic priorities.
With these instruments in place and building on the Bank’s particularly strong performance in 2016, we can look forward to a productive, successful year ahead, counting, as always, on the support of our shareholders and the commitment and hard work of CEB staff and senior management.