Brussels, 5 May 2008
The EU’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) will be formally launched tomorrow, the 6th of May, by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, representatives of EU Member States and ENP partner countries. The NIF is a key instrument of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and will mobilise additional funding for infrastructure projects mainly in the energy, transport and environment sectors in the entire area of the European Neighbourhood Policy by providing grant support for lending operations of public European financial institutions. The Commission has already made available €100 out of the €700 million it intends to allocate to the NIF for the period 2007-2013. On top of this, the Facility is open to contributions from all EU Member States so that resources from the Community budget and of the EU countries and public financial institutions will be pooled and better streamlined for the benefit of partner countries. Germany (€10 million), Italy (€1 million) and Sweden (€1 million) plan to allocate funds to the NIF in 2008; others Member States are expected to announce their contributions shortly.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: "With this Investment Facility we will not only promote the construction of transport and energy infrastructure interconnections between the EU and our neighbours but we will also address common environmental challenges such as the use of renewable energy and the de-pollution of Mediterranean and Black Seas . Concrete projects financed under this facility will bring tangible benefits to citizens of the neighbouring countries and the Union alike and will bring our partners closer to the EU.” And she added: "The NIF is a truly European initiative. I welcome the first contributions from Germany, Italy and Sweden to the NIF and encourage other Member States to use this tool for channelling their support to key investment in our immediate neighbourhood."
Although the NIF will concentrate on the energy, transport and environment sectors, its support may also be provided for SME development and to social sector projects. It is expected that the Facility will generate up to €5-6 billion of lending.
Geographically NIF operations will focus on countries with ENP Action Plans agreed with the EU, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon, Moldova, Morocco, the occupied Palestinian territory, Tunisia and Ukraine. Moreover, on a case by case basis, the other Neighbourhood countries may also profit from NIF grant support for projects of cross border or regional nature to which the EU and its neighbouring partners attach particular interest.
For further information:
 More on European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) at: http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/index_en.htm
 For Israel, in view of its level of economic development, there is no need for donor’s grants promoting lending. Israel could well be covered by regional NIF projects with one or more of its neighbours.