“The EIB fully participated in the national effort for the Southern industrialization” says Antonio Bonatesta, European University Institute (EUI-Florence) whose STAREBEI research on “The EIB and the “Mezzogiorno” in the context of regional development (1958-1973)” has just been published by the EUI (click here to access the research).

“During the period I took into consideration, the Bank’s loans contributed to a slowing down in internal Italian dualism between the North and the South” M. Bonatesta continues in an interview.  “The EIB contributed to the building of the Southern heavy and basic industry and trying to support public and private capital investments in the iron and steel and chemical and engineering sectors”. Between 1958 and 1972, more than 60% of the Bank’s loans went to projects in Italy from heavy industry (iron, steel and chemistry (Taranto…)) to dams and irrigation schemes (Metaponto…).

Developing Europe’s underdeveloped regions was the first of the EIB priorities according to its statutes and its first President, Pietro Campilli (1958-1959), was a former Minister for the “Mezzogiorno”. The second President of the Bank, also an Italian, Paride Formentini (1959-1970) structured this effort through “self-liquidating” and “intermediated” loans to investment projects via the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno but also through other intermediaries after 1968 and the creation of the EIB global loan for SMEs.

Based on the EIB archives hosted in Florence at the EUI, the research sheds light on the negotiations between the Commission and the EIB as well as between the Bank and its Italian counterparts. It describes the Italian and European economic and political contexts during which these negotiations took place featuring the disengagement of the World Bank from Europe.

The research was presented at the EIB in March 2019 and on 11 April at the EUI in Florence.