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Brussels, 23 January 2009

The European Union actively supports investments for infrastructure projects in the EU's neighbourhood

After only a year of activity, the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) has already produced impressive results on the ground and has contributed to mobilising important funding for infrastructure projects in the neighbourhood region of the European Union. The € 71 million of grants provided by the NIF in 2008 underpinned projects worth around € 2.7 billion, of which € 1.6 billion come from loans provided by the European Public Finance Institutions, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).

"Together with the Member States, we brought a real answer to the demand for concrete actions linking the EU and its Southern and Eastern neighbours more closely together. The Neighbourhood Investment Facility leverages the financing of key infrastructure projects which bring tangible and visible results for the citizens in our neighbourhood, ranging from the renovation of a hospital in Moldova to the construction of renewable energy power plants in Egypt. This shows that the EU is serious about drawing its partners closer", said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The Neighbourhood Investment Facility is a key instrument of the European Neighbourhood Policy. In 2008, the NIF has funded among others projects like the renovation of a hospital and the rehabilitation of roads facilitating communication and trade in the Republic of Moldova, the building of renewable energy power plants in Egypt addressing our common clean energy priorities and environmental concerns or the construction of transmission lines in Georgia improving energy interconnectivity and security. In total, fifteen projects were supported by the NIF in 2008, in countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

The Neighbourhood Investment Facility has been designed to create a "partnership” bringing together grants from the European Commission and the EU Member States with loans from European public Finance Institutions as well as own contributions from the ENP partner countries to implement large infrastructure projects.

By encouraging such large projects, the European Union backs ENP partner countries' priorities and supports them in carrying out necessary investments. This will certainly have a positive impact on citizens in partner countries as well as in the European citizens as we have common interests like for instance the de-pollution of the Mediterranean or of the Black Sea.

Moreover, by enabling joint European operations, the NIF plays a key role in areas like donor coordination, division of labour and harmonisation of procedures, thus helping to increase the efficiency and the effectiveness of the European external cooperation as well as its visibility.

In 2009, the NIF will continue its support with a renewed pipeline of infrastructure projects to be financially supported. Between 2007-2013 the European Commission has earmarked a total amount of € 700 million for the NIF. Member States' resources reinforce the Community effort as the NIF is also open to voluntary direct contributions from Member States that have pledged € 37 million of additional contribution in 2008.

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