The World Bank

Authored by: Eugenia Baroncelli

Routledge Handbook on the European Union and International Institutions

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415539463
eBook ISBN: 9780203083642
Adobe ISBN: 9781136186509


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The European Union (EU) is collectively the largest donor to the World Bank, itself the prime multilateral development agency in the world. Yet, only EU member states (MS) are shareholders to the World Bank, and have seats at its Board. The Union is not a member and does not even have an observer status. 2 The absence of legal standing may be the most evident reason why very little has been written on the EU’s role at the World Bank. Ambivalence in World Bank staff about the EU’s competence concerning development policies is, justifiably, patent (Baroncelli, 2009). Conversely, within the broader literature on the EU in multilateral institutions (Latikaainen and Smith, 2006; Jørgensen, 2009) a small but growing body of studies has focused on the role of the EU in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where the EU has an observer status (through the ECB) (Coeuré and Pisani-Ferry, 2009; Bini Smaghi, 2004, 2009; Truman, 2006; see also Chapter 15), plausibly favoured by the puzzle of a single currency union with multiple external representatives in monetary affairs. While some authors have analysed the Bank jointly with the IMF (Woods and Lombardi, 2006; Pisani-Ferry, 2009; Faini and Grilli, 2004: 1), very few contributions have focused exclusively on the role of the EU at the Bank (Baroncelli, forthcoming). However, even if development policies fall into the area of shared competence, and even in the absence of a Euro-like incentive to collective action, this contribution argues that there are in fact several reasons to take a closer look at what the EU does at the World Bank and with the World Bank, why it does it and, especially, how and how well it does it. 3

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