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Brussels, 11 October 2005

Commission presents two new initiatives for cohesion policy

European Commissioner Danuta Hübner meets today in Brussels ministers responsible for regional policy in Member States and candidate countries, as well as representatives of the EIB Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), to discuss two major new initiatives for cohesion policy. The two initiatives are designed to help the national and regional authorities respectively to prepare large infrastructure projects and to improve access to finance for micro to medium-sized enterprises. The initiatives involve closer cooperation among the Commission, the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund, the EBRD and other international financial institutions. The meeting was organised with the support of the Presidency of the Union represented by Ian Pearson, Minister of State for Trade, UK.

In her address to the meeting, Commissioner Hübner said: “The two initiatives presented today, while quite different, are central to my reform agenda for the future of cohesion policy. Through the JASPERS initiative, the national and regional authorities will have access to expert help in bringing forward high quality projects in good time. In that way, they will be able to deliver the benefits of EU cohesion policy more quickly and more efficiently to their citizens. The JEREMIE initiative will help to increase access to finance in the regions to encourage more business start-ups and new ventures. Europe simply must do more in this field if it is to generate new jobs in innovative activities”.

JASPERS (Joint Assistance to Support Projects in the European Regions) will help Member States to design and prepare large projects supported by EU Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. The technical assistance service would be free of charge to the public authorities wishing to avail of it. JASPERS’ staff will include over 50 specialists in technical, economic and financial analysis. It will draw on the expertise of the European Investment Bank (EIB), and will partly be based in the EIB’s headquarters in Luxembourg, and partly in regional offices on the ground in the Member States. JASPERS is expected to begin operations in 2006. The EBRD has recently agreed to become a full partner in JASPERS and will also contribute staff and expertise.

In the case of JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro-to-Medium Enterprises), the Commission and the EIB Group propose to launch a joint initiative to improve access to finance for micro to medium-sized enterprises. JEREMIE will offer the authorities the chance to work with the European Investment Fund in order to improve capacity in the field of financial engineering. The initiative will contribute to encouraging business development including highly innovative activities, for the benefit of the regions concerned and of the Union’s economy as a whole.

Both initiatives will be presented to Member States, regions and experts from financial institutions during a conference in Brussels on 24 November 2005.

A joint press conference of Commissioner Danuta Hübner and EIB President Philippe Maystadt is scheduled on Thursday 13 October 2005 at 12.30 in the Pressroom of the European Commission – Berlaymont Building.
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