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Historical Archives of the European Union - European University Institute

The European Investment Bank at the origins of a European environmental policy

Historian Jacopo Cellini, a research associate at the EUI’s Alcide de Gasperi Centre, has been awarded a 12 month research grant from the European Investment Bank Institute.

01/12/2021 | News - Research

Jacopo Cellini has started a new research project at the Alcide de Gasperi Centre, thanks to a grant from the European Investment Bank Group’s grant programme STAREBEI.

Jacopo will be examining the role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in early European Union environmental policy, from the 1970s to the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993.

The EU’s climate bank

“The EIB intends to become the EU’s ‘climate bank’,” explains Jacopo, “and my research will trace out the path it has taken to get there.”

The EIB’s Climate Bank Roadmap, adopted in November of 2020, has set 2025 as the target year from when more than 50% of its overall lending activity will be dedicated to green investment.

The trajectory of the EIB’s concerns for the environment mirror those of the other EU institutions, says Jacopo, with growing sensitivity to issues such as clean air and water in the 1970s, to the broader sustainability goals of today. “By studying the actions and priorities of the Bank, it is also interesting to observe how attention to environmental issues developed from a sectoral concern, mainly dealing with pollution, to a broader transnational concern that affects every area of our lives.”

However, as the priorities of early European integration focused on market integration and stimulating economic growth, the institutions “had to find a balance between the need for economic and infrastructural development in some regions on the one hand, and the environmental impact resulting from that development, on the other.”

Shedding light on the history of EIB environmental priorities

While the bank’s role is not one of implementing environmental policies, the EIB has supported projects with an environmental dimension since the 1960s. In 1972, the Bank charged the engineers of its Technical Advisory Service to assess systematically the environmental impact of all projects appraised, and started financing its first projects aimed exclusively at environmental protection.

To inform his research, Jacopo will rely on the EIB fonds located in the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence, as well as on primary sources at the EIB Archives in Luxembourg. He also intends to conduct a series of oral history interviews with EIB officials.

At the end of his project, the historian will present his results at both the Alcide de Gasperi Centre at the EUI, as well as at the EIB Institute in Luxembourg.


The EIB Group grant scheme STAREBEI (STAges de REcherche BEI-EIB research internships) provides grants to universities to finance junior researchers carrying out research projects proposed by the EIB Group (EIB and EIF) under the joint supervision of a university tutor and an EIB or EIF co-tutor. To date, 65 young researchers from 41 universities in 14 European countries have benefited from the 59 STAREBEI research grants signed under the STAREBEI programme.

The EUI has obtained three STAREBEI grants since the programme’s inception.

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