Permanent Representation of Spain to the Council of Europe

Manuel Montobbio, Ambassador of Spain to the Council of EuropeIn 2021 the CEB marks its 65th anniversary as a multilateral development bank with an exclusively social mandate and no fewer than 42 members. What are the advantages of the CEB membership from your country's point of view?

From Spain´s point of view, the advantages are both as client and as shareholder and as a member State of the Council of Europe.  

As client of the Bank, we can benefit from the expertise of the staff and the bank´s financial leverage in order to promote social values and build social cohesion. Financing safety nets and social infrastructure are two examples of the great initiatives that CEB can do, and it is something that private banks, more focused on business and profits, tend to neglect.  

As shareholder, Spain can participate in the construction of a more social Europe, helping to spread the values embedded in the European Social Charter. With this objective my country is an active donor of the Migrant and Refugee Fund  as well as the Regional Housing Program. Additionally, we have a bilateral fund -the Spanish Social Cohesion Account- to support CEB projects of special social interest.

As a member State of the Council of Europe (CoE) engaged with the principles of human rights, rule of Law and democracy pursued it, we are convinced that their achievement has to be accompanied by that of development, especially in its social and sustainable dimension. In this sense, CEB is an excellent instrument for the achievement of CoE’s goals, and therefore for European construction.  

Could you give us some examples of the cooperation between the CEB and your country that you consider particularly significant?

Spain has been one of the main beneficiaries of the Bank, being therefore difficult to emphasise a particular project.  I would single out a series of micro-credits to vulnerable families and business with the help of Nuevo Microbank that have been particularly successful in a country where self-employment and small and micro companies represent the main source of jobs. More recently, Spanish regions, namely Madrid, Navarra and Galicia, have benefited from credits aimed to support health care in our efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Finally, I would like to underline a EUR 1.15 million grant to support healthcare services for migrants and refugees transiting through the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla because it shows how CEB, by helping a particular city, can address a problem that concerns everyone. 

Looking into the future, how can the CEB best support your country to promote social cohesion and sustainable development that leaves no one behind?  

CEB has still a long and hard task ahead, as social problems will probably increase in the next few years due to the economic effects of the current pandemic. Besides, migration and refugees flows could rise as climate change and natural disasters occur and social inequalities could exacerbate as not everybody is transitioning at the same pace to the digital economy ... Fortunately, CEB, as the sole social multilateral bank in the European sphere, is in the best position to address those challenges and benefit from the new European funding, which would demand scaling-up our activities and, more importantly, adjusting our governance to the new realities. 

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