Europe's largest development bank, the EIB, has the 'strong shoulders' needed to carry on after Brexit, its vice-president said.

The EIB's Vice-President Dario Scannapieco was sounding upbeat about an event that could lead to the loss of a British stake worth up to €9 billion. 

The European Investment Bank, owned by the European Union's member states, uses their capital deposits as security to fund loans for research, infrastructure and environmental projects in Europe and around the world.

But Brexit is expected to result in Britain taking back its 16% stake of shareholder capital in the bank, leaving a hole of up to €9 billion in its finances.  

In an interview, EIB's Vice-President Dario Scannapieco said that the bank can go on. 

"We have strong shoulders to go ahead without this money," he said. He added that Brexit implied "that the UK will no longer be a shareholder of the EIB". 

He added that the bank was examining how to advance plans announced in December for a new subsidiary focused solely on non-EU projects that it hopes could also keep some of Britain's billions in the bank after Brexit. 

The proposal, which would initially focus on countries fuelling Europe's migrant crisis and annually lend about €7-8 billion, was given to EU finance ministers in December. 

"We are studying how to do it and then we will present the project to the shareholders," Scannapieco said. He did not say when the project would be presented.

Another factor in the plan's chances of success could also be Brexit negotiations, in which Britain's ultimate future relationship with the EIB will be determined. 

The EIB currently invests between €70-80 billion a year, with about 10% or €7-8 billion of that spent outside of the EU, from central Africa to Argentina in Latin America. 

In 2017, EIB's total disbursements to the Western Balkans countries of Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia stood at €548m. 

This week, it lent Serbia, an EU membership candidate, €134m to revamp its rail link between the southern city of Nis and the Bulgarian border. 

It also lent €30m to the local branch of the Banca Intesa for on-lending to small and medium enterprises. 

It previously approved two similar loans to Serbian branches of the Erste Bank and Societe Generale, amounting to €60m and €50m, respectively.