The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing arm of the European Union (EU), provides a further EUR 45 million loan under its "Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), for the light metro network in Greater Tunis. It will be the first operation of the EIB with Société des Transports de Tunis (STT), the newly created entity set up by the Tunisian authorities in early 2003 by the merger of Société du Métro Léger de Tunis (SMLT) and Société Nationale de Transport (SNT).
This operation finances the 5 km westward extension of the existing light rail-based public network in Greater Tunis (La Manouba district), together with the additional rolling stock and capacity improvements necessary to serve the expanded system. A further component of the project is the replacement and strengthening of life-expired track and power supply equipment of the TGM (Tunis - La Goulette - La Marsa) railway serving the northern coastal suburbs of Tunis. This investment is a follow up of the EUR 30 million loan signed in December 2000 for the construction of a new light metro line in the Tunisian capital to serve the south of the conurbation (El Mourouj district).
The project will increase the coverage of rail-based public transport within Greater Tunis, which with 2 million inhabitants, represents some 20% of the population of the country. Scheduled for completion in 2007, the investment will improve the quality and accessibility of public transport for the majority of people without access to private cars, and will help to curtail the growth in travel by private car. The project will help to maintain the attractiveness of public transport and therefore contribute to an overall improvement in the quality of urban life in the capital.
In 2002, EIB financed also with EUR 50 million the extension of the southern end of Line 2 of the Cairo Metro from Giza to El Monib.
EIB urban environmental loans in the Mediterranean Partner Countries target improvement of living conditions through support for improved urban transport, as well as drinking water and sewerage/sewage disposal/waste-processing schemes in a number of towns in Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.
FEMIP is a major step forward in financial and economic cooperation between the Union and the MPCs. It foresees EUR 8-10 billion funding of investments in the MPCs by 2006. It has at its disposal funds under the existing Euro-Mediterranean mandates, risk capital resources from the EU budget as well as technical assistance and investment aid funds provided by the Union. FEMIP's top priority is to promote private sector development (especially SMEs) and support projects helping to establish a propitious climate for private investment (economic infrastructure, health and education schemes). FEMIP's ultimate goal is to help the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC) meet the challenges of economic and social modernisation and enhance regional integration in the run-up to the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean free-trade area planned for 2010.
Set up following the Barcelona European Council (March 2002), it was inaugurated in October 2002. During FEMIP's first full year of activity the Bank has extended over 1.8 billion of new loans and approved a pipeline of 17 new investment operations for another total amount of EUR 1.8 billion, benefiting to almost all Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs). This led the Brussels European Council (December 2003) to further reinforce FEMIP by closer cooperation of the 27 Euromed Partner countries, more regional offices in the MPCs, and innovative financing instruments.