Building a hidden investment state? The European Investment Bank, national development banks and European economic governance

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Series Details Volume 26, Number 1, Pages 23-43
Publication Date January 2019
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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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