The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is providing ECU 232 million (GRD 78.4 billion)(1) in support of investment in infrastructure, industry, environment and preservation of the cultural heritage in Greece. Of this amount, a total of ECU 8.3 million (GRD 2.8 billion) is grant finance, arranged by the EIB and advanced under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement (2) for the construction and operation of the sewerage system at Gazi, Heraklion in Crete, as well as for the rehabilitation of Sacred monasteries of Mount Athos.
EIB financing is as follows:
- ECU 200 million (GRD 67.6 billion) in long-term loans is for financing small-scale infrastructure schemes throughout Greece, contained in the 2d Community Support Framework (CSF II) (3). These schemes consist of roads, ports, airports, water supply and sewerage facilities, tourist infrastructure, protection of the environment as well as technical/vocational training. Since 1991, the EIB has provided a total of ECU 510 million (GRD 172.4 billion) for infrastructure investments included in the two CSFs.
- ECU 23.7 million (GRD 8 billion) is going to the National Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEBA) as a global loan to support investment by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greece. The EIB funds will be on lent in smaller portions by ETEBA according to the EIB's financing criteria. The funds will be targeted primarily towards SMEs in tourism, industry and related services as well as environmental-protection and energy-saving investment schemes. The global loan facility combines the EIB's strong financial capacity at optimised conditions with the local network and know-how of domestic partner banks. This is the tenth EIB global loan to ETEBA. Since 1975, the EIB has established a fruitful partnership with ETEBA to contribute strengthening and modernising Greece's industrial fabric.
- Grant finance of up to ECU 2.3 million (GRD 0.8 billion), advanced under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement, goes for the construction and operation of the sewerage system of the Municipality of Gazi, Heraklion in Crete. The investment will help improve the urban and sea environment of Gazi and the adjacent beaches near Heraklion, a major tourist resort.
- Grant finance of up to ECU 5.9 million (GRD 2 billion), advanced under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement, are for rehabilitation and conservation works in the Sacred Monasteries of Aghiou Andrea, Dochiariou, Pantokratoros and Vatopediou on Mount Athos. This last operation brings total EEA grant finance provided by the EIB since 1994 for preserving Byzantine monastic monuments in Greece to ECU 19.5 million (GRD 6.6 billion). Rehabilitation and conservation works for the monastic buildings of mount Athos are supported both by the EEA Financial Mechanism and the European Union's Structural Funds, as they contribute to the preservation of a unique cultural monument, classified by UNESCO as part of the world's cultural patrimony. Most of the buildings of the 20 Sacred Monasteries on the Athos Peninsula date since the 10th century when monasticism began there in an organised way. They are the curators of an impressive wealth of drawings and minor arts, unique manuscripts, historic relics, artefacts and ethnologic objects.
(1) Conversion rates on 30/9/1998: 1 ECU = 338.120 GRD.
(2) The Financial Mechanism was set up under the 1994 Economic Area Agreement (EEA) that extended the Single Market to the then six EFTA states (Austria, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Sweden). The Mechanism was established by the participating EFTA states to reinforce the development and structural adjustment of less prosperous regions of the European Union. The EIB received the mandate from the participating countries to administer the Mechanism, a mandate prompted by the Bank's extensive experience in project appraisal and financing. The mechanism remained in force following the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the European Union, with the EU budget bearing these three countries' financial contribution corresponding to almost 82% of the resources deployed in the Mechanism.
(3) The EIB also participates in the Community Support Framework (CSF) for Greece, drawn up in close cooperation between the European Commission, the Greek authorities and the EIB. It sets out priorities for structural adjustment and economic development. The CSF has been set up within the context of the reform and the expansion of the Community's Structural Funds, which came into force in January 1989. Many public sector projects the EIB has supported in Greece in recent years have fallen within the CSF, making it possible to bring together grant aid from the structural funds, drawn from EC budgetary resources, and EIB loan finance.