The European Investment Bank and the European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI) established EUROPEAN FINANCING PARTNERS (EFP). EFP is a joint venture for financing private sector operations in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific . EFP will contribute funding to private sector projects presented by members of EDFI for (reimbursable) private sector development finance. EDFI gathers bilateral development finance institutions of the European Union (EU) Member States.

The EFP joint venture is the first concrete step in the framework agreement for financial cooperation and exchange of services between the European Investment Bank and EDFI members. It is a joint venture of the Investment Facility managed by the EIB, and CDC of the United Kingdom, DEG of Germany, the Dutch FMO, PROPARCO of France and the Belgian BIO.

The EFP will channel funds to projects and manage the portfolio of projects. The total finance capacity of the EFP will be EUR 180 million. To support this initiative, the Investment Facility setup by the EU and ACP countries will provide up to EUR 90 million funding to EFP.

Individual projects seeking financial support can be between EUR 1 million and EUR 25 million in size. EFP will finance up to 75% of projects on an equal basis with any EDFI member proposing a project. The EDFI member will itself contribute the remaining 25%.

EIB Vice President Michael G. Tutty said at the signing, Stimulation of the private sector is the main thrust for alleviating poverty and creating economic growth in the ACP, the goal the Cotonou Agreement sets us. The EFP Shareholder Agreement, which we signed today, is a bench-mark of our commitment to pool, both financial and human resources, for private sector development in the ACP

EDFI President, and FMO's CEO, R. Michael Barth said: EFP is an excellent example of coordination of national and European development policy cooperation in the ACP region. It is a milestone that represents the excellent cooperation between the EIB and the EDFI institutions. I am convinced that EFP will make a valuable contribution to private sector development.

The EIB, established in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome, finances capital investment projects that further the European Union (EU) policy objectives. It also participates in the implementation of the EU's co-operation policy towards third countries that have co-operation or association agreements with the Union. Currently, the Bank's financing in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) is carried out under the provisions of the Investment Facility, set up by the New ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou in June 2000. Under the Cotonou agreement the total financial aid available amounts to EUR 15.2 billion for 2002-2006, of which EUR 11.3 billion is grant aid from the EU member states, EUR 2.2 billion is managed by the EIB under the Investment Facility and up to EUR 1.7 billion is in the form of loans from the EIB's own resources. The Investment Facility is a revolving facility (loan amortizations will be invested in new operations), aiming at supporting technically, environmentally, financially and economically sound projects in the private or the commercially run public sector.

The Republic of South Africa became an associate member of the Lomé Convention in 1997. The Bank has a separate lending mandate from the EU's Member States to provide long term financing for RSA totalling EUR 825 million over the period 2000-2006

EDFI, the Association of European Development Finance Institutions, is a group of thirteen bi-lateral European development finance institutions, whose members provide long term finance for private sector enterprises in developing and reforming economies. The consolidated portfolio of EDFI members end 2002 was EUR 9.5 billion invested in 2,645 projects of which EUR 2.6 billion were invested in the ACP. The main objectives of EDFI, which was founded in Brussels in 1992, are to foster cooperation among its members and to strengthen links between these and EU institutions.

The EDFI members are: AWS, Austria - BIO, Belgium - CDC, United Kingdom - COFIDES, Spain - DEG, Germany - FINNFUND, Finland - FMO, Holland - IFU/ IFV/IØ, Denmark - NORFUND, Norway - PROPARCO, France - SBI/BMI, Belgium - SIMEST, Italy - SWEDFUND, Sweden.