France's Ministry for Health and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed a statement of intent under which the EIB, through its French Hospitals Programme, will join forces with the French Government and other financial institutions in the drive to modernise France's hospitals.

The statement of intent - worth EUR 500 million - was signed in Paris on 15 December 2003 by Mr Jean-François Mattei, Minister for Health, the Family and the Disabled, and by Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Vice-President of the EIB. The financing will be put in place by two key banking partners of the French hospitals sector: Dexia Crédit Local and the Caisses d'Epargne Group.

The objective of France's Plan Hôpital 2007, as declared by the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, is to speed up modernisation of France's hospitals by helping them to carry out capital investment that budgetary constraints would otherwise have ruled out during the five-year period.

Under this Plan, the Government will make additional resources available to the hospitals concerned enabling them to invest some EUR 1.2 billion a year, or 6 billion over five years. This outlay would be on top of the investment carried out each year by the hospitals. In total, the goal is to invest nearly an additional EUR 10 billion over a five-year period, of which more than half will be financed from outside sources.

The EIB's French Hospitals programme will earmark EUR 500 million for the financing of medium-scale hospital investment in France. Through this programme, the EIB aims to assist the investment drive initiated under the French Government's Plan Hôpital 2007.

The hospitals benefiting from the EIB's French Hospitals programme are public healthcare institutions (EPS) and private not-for-profit "Participants in the Public Hospitals Service" (PSPH) which have Multiannual Investment Programmes in the EUR 25-150 million bracket.

Implementation of the EIB's programme rests on a partnership with two banking groups specialising in financing the French hospitals sector: Dexia Crédit Local and the Caisses d'Epargne Group. The regional directorates and networks of these two partners helped to identify the investment schemes that will benefit from EIB funding on favourable maturity and interest rate terms. Some hundred hospitals are in the frame, with a range of projects: rebuilding or extension of hospital sites, construction of new hospital facilities, remodelling of medical or medico-technical services, establishment of logistics or technical centres serving all healthcare units of individual hospitals, renovation of existing hospitals, etc. More than half the schemes pinpointed are located in regional development areas.

Implementation of this programme completes the three tiers of support facilities that the EIB provides for France's healthcare sector:

  • For large hospitals, the EIB provides direct or intermediated individual loans covering part of the long-term external funding that they require to round off their financing plans.
  • For medium-sized hospitals, it offers the best possible terms under the French Hospitals Programme in partnership with Dexia and the Caisses d'Epargne.
  • To help fund small-scale healthcare schemes, it makes additional resources available to banks under its global loan facility, in order to enable them to improve their lending terms.

The EIB has developed the French Hospitals Programme as part of its support for improved healthcare in Europe. This objective has been one of the EIB's priorities since 1997, on the principle that such investment contributes to the European Union's social cohesion by helping the less advantaged regions to gain access to the best healthcare and hospital services.

Since then, the EIB has provided a total of nearly EUR 4.5 billion in financing for the upgrading and creation of hospital and healthcare infrastructure in the European Union. In France, it has granted loans of EUR 25m, 100m and 60m to the University Hospitals of Fort-de-France (Martinique), Strasbourg and Toulouse respectively as well as 200 m to Lyons Hospitals. Outside the EU, it has channelled a total of some EUR 330 million into the healthcare sectors of Poland, Syria, Tunisia, Serbia and Cyprus.