The divorce of Britain and the EU’s bank may get messy

The divorce of Britain and the EU’s bank may get messy

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It’s not only the member states who are represented in the Brexit talks by the European Commission team led by Michel Barnier, but the EU institutions too.
They include European Parliament, whose representatives are in as close daily touch with the Barnier task force as are the Irish diplomats here, and, at one further remove, institutions such as the nuclear safety agency, Euratom, and the EU’s own bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB). Like the member states, although they may each have their own special interests, they are not permitted to negotiate bilaterally with the UK.
That’s fine when their interests and perspectives on the talks are as one with the 27, or “in lock step”, as one diplomat put it to me about the Irish position. You would be hard put to find a scintilla of a gap between the two positions.
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But what happens later in the process, when a political interest in reaching a settlement becomes an over-riding imperative for the 27 capitals, weighing more heavily in the balance than the merits of an individual state’s or institution’s interests? That must niggle at the back of minds in Dublin.   
And take the theoretical case of the EIB. The nonprofit, long-term lending bank whose shareholders are the member states is now the world’s largest international public lending institution. It uses its financing operations to support European economic integration and social cohesion, investing just 10 per cent outside the EU.
Over the past five years (2012-2016) for example, the bank has invested €3.7 billion in the Irish economy, €512 million in support of universities. It is currently preparing another round of major loans to Ireland and has been discussing the possibility of assisting businesses affected by the asymmetric shock of Brexit.
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