The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) is granting a EUR 60 million loan for new roads in Lebanon.

The loan covers the construction of two new primary roads: (1) the 11 km highway section between Taanayel and Masnaa on the road between Beirut and Damascus and (2) the 6 km Tripoli West Ring Road .

The finance contract was signed in Luxembourg by Mr. Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President in charge of FEMIP, and Mr. Al-Fadl Chalak, President of the the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR).

Mr de Fontaine Vive commented: "A continuous and well-targeted development of the Lebanese road sector is essential to cope with the growing domestic population and economic needs for adequate public sector infrastructure, in particular in urban areas along the coast. Maintaining a well-functioning Lebanese road network is also essential to support the development of the private sector, as well as the regional economic transit activity and trade, where Lebanon plays a key role and continues to constitute a driving force for the region.

The implementation of the road project works will be supported through a 3-year technical assistance programme extended under the FEMIP Technical Assistance Fund.

The loan is extended to the Republic of Lebanon and will be administered by the CDR, which is also the beneficiary of the technical assistance programme.

The loan constitutes the second EIB operation in the Lebanese road sector loan, after the Northern Coastal Highway project signed in 1997 (EUR 20 million). Total EIB loans signed in Lebanon since 1993 amount to EUR 702 million mid-2005, for a total number of 22 loans.

Lending in the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs) takes place under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). FEMIP focuses primarily on developing the private sector and financing socio-economic infrastructure underpinning private sector development.

This is the culmination of a partnership between the European Union and its neighbour countries on the Mediterranean that goes back more than thirty years, and has been intensified in the 90's in support of the Barcelona Process, first launched at the Barcelona Conference in November 1995. FEMIP aims to help the Mediterranean Partner Countries meet the challenges of economic and social modernisation and enhanced regional integration within the framework of Wider Europe-Neighbourhood, and with a view to the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean free-trade area. It has enabled Europe to step up its cooperation with the Partner Countries. Thanks to this Facility, endowed with increased financial resources, lending activity in the region has increased from EUR 1.5 billion to EUR 2 billion annually. FEMIP gives priority to financing private sector ventures, with the dual aim of liberalizing 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, which are fundamental in achieving social stability and encouraging productive investment.