Ready for dual challenge, EBRD holds Annual Meeting in London

By Anthony Williams

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At a time when credit is scarce and economic volatility is continuing, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will reaffirm its role in supporting growth, when it holds its Annual Meeting on 18-19 May 2012 in London.

The Bank will show that it is fully equipped to meet the dual challenge of supporting both its existing and future regions of operations.

The EBRD, which started its operations in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and more recently reached out to Turkey and Mongolia, expects to start investing in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region later this year.

The Bank’s 65 Governors, which represent its owners, will take stock of the EBRD’s strategy to support a region that is still being negatively affected by the debt crisis in western Europe.

They will be asked to approve a special fund worth €1 billion to kick start funding for the SEMED region ahead of full ratification of the Bank’s geographic expansion. They will also decide on who will run the EBRD as President for the next four years.

The Annual Meeting will open with a speech from the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

The theme of this year’s traditional Business Forum is “Managing in Turbulent Times” and provides an opportunity for high-level discussion on the key issues affecting both the EBRD and the region in which it invests.

The Forum’s opening panel discussion, Transition under Pressure: Change in the Face of Economic Turbulence, will look at the implications of current global events for transition in the EBRD’s current region and in the countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean.

The keynote speech during this panel will be given by Marek Belka, Head of National Bank of Poland. Other panel discussions include a review of the role of women in the knowledge economy, ways to secure a sustainable future for energy and the strengthening of local capital markets.

During the meetings, the EBRD’s chief economist Erik Berglof will present the EBRD’s latest economic forecasts for the region, including the future countries of operations.

The Bank is also launching the next phase of its Sustainable Energy Initiative, expanding its successful work in boosting the use of renewable energy and supporting energy efficiency in a region where energy intensity remains high.

The continuing global economic and political upheaval - most recently the Eurozone crisis and the events of the Arab spring - has demonstrated the key role that the EBRD can play in an environment where other sources of financing remain scarce.

Well-capitalised and with a reaffirmed triple-A rating, the City of London’s only international financial institution has sharply increased investments from pre-crisis levels. It will carry on investing at crisis levels after a record €9.1 billion in 2011.

The EBRD not only supports the development of the private sector but also engages in policy dialogue, promotes energy efficiency and legal reform, supports small businesses and helps to stimulate economic development especially in remote regions.

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