The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is lending EUR 123 million (1) under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership for protecting Morocco's environment and modernising its industry:

EUR 100 million is going to the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) to upgrade its industrial facilities in Morocco.

OCP, a State corporation which holds the monopoly for the mining, processing and marketing of Moroccan phosphate, is the world's leading exporter of phosphate and phosphoric acid.

This loan is the largest EIB loan ever provided in Morocco. It will serve to finance OCP's investment programme for the period 1999-2003, which is aimed at optimising production units at its two chemical plants in Safi and Jorf Lasfar, improving their reliability and reducing their environmental impact.

EUR 23 million is being advanced to the Régie Autonome Intercommunale de Distribution d'Eau et d'Électricité de la Wilaya de Meknès (RADEM) to finance rehabilitation and extension of the sewage and stormwater system and construction of a sewage treatment plant for the town of Meknès, located 140 km from Rabat.

This loan, the EIB's third operation in Morocco's sewerage sector, is attracting the 3% interest subsidy funded from the Union's budgetary resources and earmarked for environmental projects.

The works will be carried out by RADEM between now and 2003. They will help to improve the quality of life of 500 000 inhabitants, as well as providing them with a wastewater treatment and recycling system. They form part of the first phase (1999-2003) of a broader sewerage programme stretching ahead to the year 2020. The programme is designed to safeguard water resources and enhance Morocco's attractiveness as a location for industrial and service activities, particularly tourism.

The EIB is a lead player in implementing the European Union's "Euro-Mediterranean Partnership" and its priority objectives. In this context, a mandate has been set in place for the period 1997-2000 to provide up to EUR 2 310 million of funding for projects in the 12 non-EU Mediterranean countries which have signed cooperation and/or association agreements with the EU.Since 1979, the EIB has made available some EUR 1 200 million for projects of key importance for the Moroccan economy, such as the EU-Morocco power grid interconnection via the Strait of Gibraltar, high-voltage electricity transmission facilities and power supplies to rural areas, improvements to the trunk and international telephone networks and large-scale water management schemes (sewerage systems in coastal towns, irrigation of farmland in the Doukkala Plain, etc.). The EIB has also contributed towards financing small and medium-sized enterprises in the productive and cooperative sectors through global loans to commercial banks, intended particularly to pave the way for Moroccan/European joint ventures.

(1) EUR 1 = 10.5605 MAD, 0.6663000 GBP.