By Marc Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Europe’s biggest development bank, the European Investment Bank, is to ratchet up its coronavirus support fund to 2 billion euros as part of global efforts to help tackle the health crisis, the bank’s President Werner Hoyer has told Reuters.
The European Union has been hosting an international pledging conference this month with the aim of raising 7.5 billion euros ($8.25 billion) in initial funding to kick-start global cooperation.
The EIB’s additional money will be earmarked for rolling out vaccines, improving therapeutics and diagnostics globally and helping health systems cope.
“Over the three-week pledging period the EIB Group has had the opportunity to significantly increase its (initial) pledge in support of the European Union’s overall effort,” EIB President Hoyer said.
“The EIB Group will pledge 2 billion euros,” he said.
“Support for treatments, vaccines and cures is an immediate priority”.
The EIB initially pledged 141 million euros of support on May 4 mainly to help research and development efforts both within the EU and other countries around the world.
The additional money is set to be focused on activities out of the EU and includes measures to support health systems.
It is part of a wider 6 billion euro COVID-related health pipeline at the EIB Group which includes joint investment with the European Commission and include some ‘health resilience’ projects such as sanitation.
Werner added that European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen had been a “driving force” behind the pledging effort.
“This global pandemic is testing us in unprecedented ways, especially our willingness to demonstrate true solidarity within and beyond Europe,” he said.
($1 = 0.9088 euros)
(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Hugh Lawson)