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    Partnering for human rights

    Respect for human rights is a fundamental value of the European Investment Bank. We are committed to promoting human rights in our activities and invest in projects that enhance quality of life, inclusion and equal opportunities for everyone. We work closely with EU organisations and other international financial institutions to strengthen our impact worldwide.

    How we work

    Unlike other development finance institutions, we are legally bound by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. We are also deeply committed to complying with international human rights laws and standards, such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

    To ensure that our investments respect and promote human rights, we have established a series of policies, procedures and practices.


    Our EIB Group Environmental and Social Policy and Standards require our promoters to integrate human rights into their environmental and social due diligence processes. This includes building and maintaining a constructive relationship with communities and people affected by the project, so that their rights, views, interests and concerns are taken into account throughout the project lifecycle. Promoters must guarantee access to information, as well as its timely disclosure and transparent dissemination without any discrimination.


    Every project we finance must go through a human rights-responsive due diligence process, during which we identify its risks and impact, from the pre-appraisal stage to completion.

    Depending on the outcome, we may include targeted contractual obligations, disbursement conditions or other measures to improve human rights. We exclude from our financing activities projects that:

    • Inherently limit people’s individual rights and freedom, such as prisons
    • Result in forced labour or harmful child labour
    • Involve animal and human reproductive cloning, the sex trade, or the manufacture of tobacco or gambling

    We provide transparent reports on our assessment of the environmental and social impact of our operations. We also publish key environmental and social documents relevant to each of our operations.


    Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. Yet by speaking up for the voiceless, human rights defenders sometimes put their own freedoms, or even lives, at risk. In many countries around the world they face threats of intimidation and reprisal from powerful groups seeking to silence them.

    The increasing use of legal action to limit public participation and target civil society organisations is worrisome. We believe that enabling expression of dissenting voices and diverse opinions regarding our operations is at the heart of democracy and the rule of law.

    We do not tolerate any reprisals, threats, intimidation, harassment, or violence against any human rights defenders, environmental activists or indigenous people advocates voicing their opinion about EIB-financed activities. We take any allegation of intimidation or reprisals seriously, and follow up, as and when appropriate.


    We see meaningful stakeholder engagement as a cornerstone of sustainable and inclusive development. If someone is concerned about the impact of a project, it is possible to file a complaint with the EIB Complaints Mechanism. Its main role is to listen to concerns about an EIB Group project or activity and enable people to exercise their right to be heard. When analysing a case this could either be done through a compliance review or a dispute resolution process.

    We’ve also established a Fraud Investigations Division with the capacity to independently investigate allegations of fraud and misconduct involving EIB Group financed activities and/or members of governing bodies or staff.

    What is the Charter of Fundamental Rights?

    The Charter of Fundamental Rights enshrines a number of personal, civic, political, economic and social rights for European Union citizens into law.


    Moving to action

    We have made a lot of progress on human rights, but there is still more to do. We acknowledge challenges in ensuring our clients’ human rights performance – especially in more fragile environments – and work hard to improve their and our own impact.

    Following broad public consultation, the EIB Group adopted a new Environmental and Social Sustainability Framework (ESSF), which outlined for the first time our vision on how to address environmental and social challenges, as well as uphold human rights. We’ve now gone further by releasing our approach to human rights.


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