The European Investment Bank (EIB), which has its headquarters in Luxembourg, has made an intriguing appointment in an effort to raise its game in Brussels. A new position of Brussels representative of the EIB has been created, and Dutch journalist-turned-politician Ben Knapen, 62, has been appointed to the role.
From October 2010 to November 2012, Knapen was the state secretary for European affairs and development co-operation in the Dutch foreign ministry. In that role he used to attend meetings of the European Union's general affairs council. Another of those attending was Werner Hoyer, Germany's Europe minister from October 2009 to December 2011, who is now the president of the EIB.
Hoyer said Knapen's appointment was linked to EU member states' recent decision to increase the EIB's lending capacity. He said that Knapen's previous work in journalism – he is a former foreign editor and editor-in-chief of the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad – would “help reinvigorate the contribution of Europe's long-term lending institution to addressing investment gaps across Europe and beyond”.
Actually, Knapen's time in journalism had its share of controversy. He was on the board of PCM Uitgevers from 1999 to 2006, when it sold off a controlling stake in many of its strongest publications, including NRC Handelsblad. Knapen left PCM with a €1.5 million parachute, but not before a series of failed attempts at revival, the worst of them with venture capitalist group APAX. Not the best experience in addressing investment gaps.