The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is providing a loan of up to EUR 50 million in support of Information Technology (IT) classrooms in primary and basic education school facilities throughout Turkey.

The EIB loan is made available to the Republic of Turkey for the Turkish Ministry of National Education. This is the first EIB loan in Turkey under the new Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP).

The project consists in providing 6,800 Information Technology (IT) classrooms to about 5,100 primary or basic education schools - teaching grades 1 through 8 - located throughout Turkey. It supports the implementation of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) strategy of the Basic Education Programme of the Turkish Government (promoted under its second phase covering the period 2002-2005). During the first phase, the Government provided 3,188 IT classrooms to 2,802 basic schools countrywide, with the support of loan-financing from the World Bank. There are some 35,000 basic education schools in Turkey, which cater for over 10 million pupils (ages 6-14). The ultimate goal is to establish at least one IT classroom in all 11,000 basic schools offering grades 1 through 8.

The EIB is a lead player in implementing the European Union's priority objectives. In 2001, EIB financing for projects supporting European Union policy objectives totalled EUR 37 billion (up 13% on 1999). EUR 31 billion went to projects within the EU Member States and close to EUR 3 billion to those in the Accession Countries, while lending in other countries ran to EUR 3 billion. To fund these activities, the EIB borrowed EUR 32 billion on the world's capital markets.

In the Mediterranean region, the EIB operates within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, which complements the various Member States' bilateral cooperation policies. Under the second financing mandate corresponding to this Partnership and spanning the period 2000-2007, the EIB will lend EUR 6.425 billion for financing projects in the 12 Mediterranean Countries which have signed cooperation or association agreements with the EU. The EIB focuses particularly on supporting these countries' efforts to open up their economies and help businesses to prepare for market liberalisation ahead of the progressive creation of a free trade area with the EU.

In the wake of the Barcelona European Council (15 and 16 March 2002), the EIB will step up its cooperation with the Mediterranean Partner Countries by setting up the new Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) underpinned by operational offices in the region. This Facility, is being launched in autumn 2002, will be endowed with increased financial resources, enabling the EIB gradually to scale up its annual lending activity in the region from EUR 1.5 billion to EUR 2 billion.

Qualitatively, the Facility will place emphasis on social-sector projects, particularly health, education and environmental protection, in the belief that this will make for social stability and encourage productive investment.

The new Facility will accord priority to financing private-sector projects with the dual aim of liberalising the Mediterranean Partner Countries' economies and expanding their potential in the run-up to the EU-MPC Customs Union in 2010. In this connection, the EIB's objective is to bolster the proportion of financing it devotes to private-sector projects to 33%.

So far the EIB has contributed some EUR 2 billion towards projects of key importance for the Turkish economy. EIB funds in Turkey are made available under the second Euro-Med financing mandate, the "Special Action Programme" and EIB's "pre-accession Facility". The "Special Action Programme" makes available financing for up to EUR 450m during 2001-2004, in favour of a key Investment in Turkey's Energy Sector. EIB's current "pre-accession Facility" of EUR 8.5 billion runs up to the year 2003. Pre-accession facility lending is aimed at projects that will support the integration of Candidate Countries with the EU. A particular emphasis is being given to environmental protection, as well as communications infrastructure, industrial competitiveness and regional development.

EIB finance for infrastructure went mainly for environmental projects and the earthquake reconstruction effort. Among the projects financed in Turkey are: the wastewater and effluent treatment systems in Adana, Diyarbakir, Izmit and Tarsus; the desulphurisation equipment at the Yeniköy power station on the Aegean coast and the construction of more environment-friendly power and heating plants. The EIB has also promoted SMEs through global loans to local commercial banks.