A grant of EUR 4 million from the Technical Assistance Fund recently created under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) was provided on 15 December 2004 for the Algerian motorway sector. Agence Nationale des Autoroutes - (ANA), the national motorway agency, will receive this technical assistance, which will consist of two components, one to support the Project Implementation Unit set up to oversee construction of the 26 km motorway section between Bouira and El Adjiba and the other to increase ANA's capacity and train its staff. An additional objective of this technical assistance, which will involve a permanent team of six experts, is to examine possible options in terms of a motorway concession or a public-private partnership, as favoured by the Algerian Government. For almost 15 years, the EIB has been involved in the financing of several sections of motorway in Algeria, covering a total of 100 km, east and west of Algiers. In this context, ANA's Director signed a cooperation agreement with the EIB in Luxembourg on 15 December 2004.

On the same terms, EUR 2 million was made available for two technical assistance schemes for implementing the project aimed at rebuilding public infrastructure after the earthquake of May 2003, for which the EIB has already lent EUR 230 million for a period of 30 years.

In 2004, the EIB has therefore provided a total of EUR 6 million for operations in Algeria under the FEMIP Technical Assistance Fund, representing one quarter of the annual Fund budget allocated to the Mediterranean Countries targeted by FEMIP.

It should be pointed out that FEMIP's Technical Assistance Fund was established in July 2003 as part of the EIB's reinforced role in supporting the Mediterranean partner countries in accordance with the Barcelona process adopted by the EU. It will contribute to accelerating the preparation and implementation of capital projects in the Mediterranean region. The Fund has a budget of EUR 105 million for technical assistance grant aid over the next four years. Procurement of works and services under the Technical Assistance Fund will be carried out in compliance with the EU's MEDA rules.

Loans in the Mediterranean partner countries (MPCs) are granted under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). This Facility focuses primarily on developing the private sector and financing social and economic infrastructure underpinning this development.

FEMIP is the culmination of a partnership between the European Union and its Mediterranean neighbours that goes back more than thirty years and was intensified in the 1990s to underpin the Barcelona Process launched at the Barcelona Conference in November 1995. It aims to help the MPCs meet the challenges of economic and social modernisation and enhanced regional integration in line with the Wider Europe Neighbourhood Policy and with a view to the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. It enables Europe to step up its cooperation with the partner countries. Thanks to this Facility, with its increased financial resources, the EIB has been able progressively to expand its lending in the region from EUR 1.5 billion to EUR 2 billion annually. FEMIP gives priority to financing private sector ventures, with the dual aim of liberalising the economies of the MPCs and developing their potential in the run-up to the planned creation of an EU/MPC customs union in 2010. It focuses on foreign direct investment and local private sector initiatives as well as social sector projects, particularly in the fields of health, education and environmental protection, with the aim of fostering social stability and encouraging productive investment.