> It seems to me that what the EIB lends is pretty much chicken feed.
Total assets of 200 billion EUR, a balance-sheet increasing 30% a year, and lots of funding for schools, hospitals, business incubators and infrastructure is indeed significant. Remember, we're talking 30 billion EUR in direct investment in things which produce value, not payouts to rentier greedheads or property bubbles; the folks at Eurostat (http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/Public/datashop) say total EU Government investment expenditure in 1999 was 183 billion EUR or so, meaning EIB funds were an eighth of this. Essentially, the Eurostate is doing an end run around the Maastricht limits on national debt with euro-debt.
Also, the EIB is the largest single investor in Eastern Europe. I'm not sure what the Central European equivalent of the dragon would be; wolverines, maybe?