Building a hidden investment state? The European Investment Bank, national development banks and European economic governance, Matthias Thiemann, Daniel Mertens (Sciences Po, France)

in Journal of European Public Policy, October 2017

The European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe and the enduring economic crisis has brought state-owned development banks again to the fore of public and scholarly debate in Europe. This article proposes to place these banks’ activities and recent institutional co-operation in the context of European integration and assumes a historical perspective on European economic governance and development banking. Most importantly, it argues that the European Investment Bank has become a centre of gravity in long-standing political attempts to increase the investment firepower of the European Union. Based on detailed process-tracing analysis through publicly available data and interview material, the article delineates a gradual process of institutional innovation and network formation that advanced since the late 1980s and culminated in recent post-crisis policy processes. The contemporary visibility of development banking in Europe, we conclude, follows from these and is representative of a nucleus for a – somewhat hidden – European investment state, whose reach and stability, however, is yet to be determined.

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