First financing under the newly created FEMIP Technical Assistance Fund has been granted by the European Investment Bank (EIB ) for the Port of Tartous in Syria. The Technical Assistance will support the Tartous Port Authority in port management and project planning and will underpin the EIB loan of EUR 50 million signed with the Syrian Ministry of Transport in May last year for the modernisation and expansion of Tartous Port over the period 2003-2006.

The international consultancy firm Kampsax, member of the COWI group, has been selected to carry out the first phase of the Technical Assistance. The Consultants will start their assignment, expected to last about six months, on February 14th.

The FEMIP Technical Assistance Fund was established in July 2003 as part of EIB's increased role in support of Mediterranean Partner Countries under the EU Barcelona Process. The FEMIP TA Fund will help accelerate and enhance the preparation and implementation of investment projects in the Mediterranean region. The Fund has grants totalling EUR 105 million euros to extend for Technical Assistance over the next four years. Works and services under the FEMIP TA Fund are procured in line with the EU-MEDA regulation.

The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), established within the European Investment Bank (EIB), is a major step forward in financial and economic cooperation between the Union and the Mediterranean Partner Countries (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 FDI) 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 MPCs 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 in March 2002, it was inaugurated in October 2002. Satisfactory results during its first year of operations led the December 2003 European Council in Brussels to further reinforce FEMIP through closer cooperation of the 27 Euromed Partner countries (15 EU, 2 Acceeding and 10 MPCs), opening of offices in the Maghreb, setting up a trust fund open to Member States interested in Mediterranean issues and promoting innovative financing instruments, allowing EIB to be more risk taking.

FEMIP involves the MPCs in its activities through its Ministerial Committee and its preparatory meetings of experts, as well as by establishing local offices (in 2003 an office was opened for the Mashreq in Cairo, with further local representation foreseen later this year in Maghreb). It also aims at stepping up long-term lending and developing new products and technical assistance.

Through FEMIP, the EIB has lent a total of EUR 3.7 billion over the last two years for operations from which nearly all the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs) are benefiting. For 2004, FEMIP achieved financing operations totaling some EUR 2 billion.