FEMIP Technical Assistance Fund (TAF) provides a major Technical Assistance programme for the start of operations and development of the first private sector support fund in Syria, the SME FUND.

Set up by the EIB in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and domestic banks, the SME FUND is to provide long-term financing in foreign currency to private sector Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) located in Syria. The original agreement for the establishment of the SME FUND was signed in September 2003 for an amount of EUR 40 million (cf press release no. 2003/094 of 10/9/2003).

An international consultancy consortium led by DFC SA based in Spain has been selected to carry out the Technical Assistance programme. The Consultants will officially start their 3-year assignment on 21 June 2004.

Established in July 2003 the FEMIP TAF will help accelerate and enhance the preparation and implementation of investment projects in the Mediterranean region with a particular focus on private sector development. Up to end 2006, TAF has available a total of EUR 105 million for Technical Assistance grants. Works and services under the FEMIP TAF are procured in line with the EU-MEDA regulation.

European Investment Bank (EIB) lending in the Mediterranean Partner Countries is provided under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). Through FEMIP, the Bank focuses particularly on developing the private sector and financing socio-economic development infrastructure.

FEMIP was set up in response to the conclusions of the Barcelona European Council (15-16 March 2002) and Valencia Euro-Mediterranean Conference (22-23 April 2002). It was reinforced according to the Brussels European Council decision in December 2003, with the following new features mainly in support of private sector development:

  • stepping up financial support in the region through a special facility for risk financing for the private sector (the SFE) and by setting up a trust fund;
  • diversifying the range of financial products offered, notably by seeking possible ways of providing local currency financing;
  • intensifying dialogue with the MPCs by organising meetings of the Committee of Experts to prepare the ground for the deliberations of FEMIP's Ministerial Committee and by establishing local offices in the Mashreq - where the Cairo office was established in June 2003 - and, some time in 2004, in the Maghreb.

Its purpose is to help the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs) meet the challenges of economic and social modernisation and further regional integration in the run-up to establishment of a free trade area between the EU and those countries foreseen for 2010.