Conceived toward the end of World War II at the Bretton Woods conference, the World Bank played an important role in the reconstruction of war-torn Europe. Its first loan, of $250 million, was made to France in 1947. This was followed by other reconstruction loans to the Netherlands, Denmark, and Luxembourg the same year.
Today, the World Bank Group has evolved into one of the world’s largest sources of development assistance, with a mission to fight poverty with passion and professionalism by helping people help themselves. European constituencies have a critical role to play in this mission.
The 28 European Union countries account for almost one-third of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) shares, close to half of International Development Association (IDA) contributions, and more than two-thirds of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Trust Fund. In more general terms, the European countries have a population of 500 million, account for a quarter of global trade and outward investment, and foot the bill for 55 percent of official development assistance worldwide.
These aggregate figures illustrate the potential that exists to mobilize political support, funding, knowledge, and other critical development resources from Europe.
In this context, the World Bank maintains relationships with European donor countries through its External and Corporate Relations office in Europe. This office liaises with European governments; actively engages media and public opinion of the various member countries; fosters relations with a broad and potent NGO community, the European private sector, and academia; and facilitates operational partnerships with a diverse set of development agencies, both bilateral and multilateral.