Public Banks and Intensive Livestock Production

9 Jun 2022
The European Investment Bank (EIB) provides funding to projects within and outside the EU. The Member States of the EU are its stakeholders, and today the Intergroup examined whether the funding going to intensive livestock farming abides by EU policies to improve animal welfare, tackle climate change and the biodiversity crisis.

MEP David Cormand (Greens/EFA, FR) as Rapporteur for the BUDG Committee opinion on the financial activities of the European Investment Bank – annual report, gave the Intergroup an overview of the power and function of the EIB and how much funding is going into intensive agriculture.

Cormand gave examples of an EIB loan that goes to a Russian oligarch to grow two hundred million chickens per year, as well as a fund that goes to Morocco to a producer for phosphate investments. Given that in 2019 there was a promise that the EIB would be turned into a climate Bank, he questioned the transparency of the decision making behind the approval of these loans. 

MEP Cormand tabled an amendment that requires the EIB to look at sustainable projects for animal raising and not to promote any production that doesn’t respect animal welfare. He highlighted that there is a strong need for transparency, visibility and specialists to be working on the analysis of projects for approval by the EIB.

In a presentation given by Jennifer Black, Campaign Manager Europe at World Animal Protection (WAP), the Intergroup was informed that one hundred and ninety scientists signed a declaration stating the need for food system transformation in order to build long term food security. A shift to higher consumption of vegetables, legumes and fewer animal products is necessary to ensure such security. And yes, you’ve guessed what has the ability to drive this change; public funding. 

Public funding should not just align with goals such as those within the Farm to Fork Strategy or the Paris Agreement, but actually contribute towards reaching them. 

MEP Sarah Wiener (Greens/EFA, AT) made an astute observation that there is in fact no EU-wide definition of intensive livestock farming and wondered therefore how the EIB could assess whether or not its funding is contributing to this activity. Black explained that the Stop Financing Factory Farming Campaign provides clear criteria upon which multilateral development banks (MDBs) can assess whether or not they should be financing a specific project. 

This criteria includes things such as stocking density, transport, diversity of crops and animals on rotational farms. This should make it easier for the EIB and other public banks to clearly address what they mean. For example in the 2021-2025 EIB Climate Road Map the EIB states that it will not support unsustainable animal rearing but it does not define what it means by that. 

The general conclusion amongst MEPs following today’s debate, is that there is a need for public banks to have clearer goals, based on specific definitions. All projects assessed for funding should be carried out transparently with specialists on each topic in order to ensure a holistic approach in reaching targets under the remit of the Green Deal.