EBRD celebrates 25 years of investing for change

By Anthony Williams
@ebrdtony

EBRD celebrates 25 years of investing for change

EBRD was founded in 1991 to build a post-Cold War Europe

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) celebrates its 25th anniversary this month with a ceremony that will look back on a quarter of a century of successful support for emerging economies and ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the future.

The Bank was formally inaugurated on 15 April 1991, in the wake of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. It was tasked with supporting the transition to open market economies of the countries of central  and eastern Europe and later the former Soviet Union.

On 11 April, at the EBRD’s London headquarters, President Sir Suma Chakrabarti will be joined by a number of distinguished guests for a discussion of the achievements of the Bank and the region since the EBRD’s inception and an assessment of the next 25 years.

Taking part will be Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the former President of Latvia, the EBRD Governor for Jordan, Minister Imad Najib Fakhoury, Simeon Djankov  a former Bulgarian Finance Minister and now a visiting professor at the London School of Economics as well as incoming EBRD Chief Economist Professor Sergei M. Guriev.

Sir Suma will mark the anniversary celebrations with an opening speech.

The discussion will be preceeded by a presentation of initial findings from the EBRD’s third Life in Transition Survey, a comprehensive analysis undertaken in conjunction with the World Bank that captures the expectations, hopes and fears of citizens across countries in transition.

The EBRD invests in 36 countries spanning three continents -- from Mongolia in Central Asia to Morocco on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, from Estonia on the Baltic to Egypt on the Mediterranean.

The EBRD’s first project was a loan to a bank in Poland in 1991. It has since invested more than €100 billion in thousands of projects that have reached out to broad sections of economies in its Countries of Operations.

After initially focussing on central Europe and the former Soviet Union, the Bank subsequently responded to calls to apply its particular expertise in private sector development to other countries.

It opened an office in Mongolia in 2006. Founding shareholder Turkey was the first country outside of the former Communist bloc to seek EBRD financing, receiving EBRD investments from 2009. It is now the Bank’s largest recipient as measured by annual investment volume.

In 2011, the international community asked the EBRD to become part of the financial response to fast-moving politicial change in the Arab world.

The Bank has since invested more than €3.5 billion in projects in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. Lebanon is seeking to join this group.

The EBRD is now also investing temporarily in Greece and Cyprus to help them emerge from deep economic crisis.