Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, together with Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Horst Reichenbach, Secretary General at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), opened today the new regional office for the JASPERS facility in Warsaw. JASPERS ('Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions') is a new partnership between the European Commission and the two Banks to assist the central and eastern European Member States to develop high quality projects which will receive support from the EU's Structural and Cohesion Funds.

Opening the office, Commissioner Hübner said, "Member States and regions will be implementing a European investment programme on an unprecedented scale over the coming years. This is a tremendous opportunity to boost growth, create jobs, and improve the competitiveness of the Union as a whole. But it is also a major challenge. By creating the JASPERS instrument, and by pooling the resources and expertise of the European Commission, the EIB and the EBRD, we are convinced that we can help the authorities to develop major projects of the highest quality."

EIB President Philippe Maystadt commented: Support to projects in the less developed regions has been the EIB's major priority since its establishment in 1958. In the course of nearly fifty years of operations for the benefit of the balanced development of the Union, the EIB has gained significant knowledge and experience in financing projects in line with the EU's regional policies. I appreciate very much that JASPERS provides the Bank with another possibility to share its expertise in cooperation with the Commission and the EBRD for the benefit of the Member States that joined the Union in 2004 and 2007.

Horst Reichenbach, EBRD Secretary General, said: The EBRD has been operating in Poland and the Baltic states since 1991 and has been providing staff from our Warsaw-based infrastructure team since the start of the JASPERS initiative in 2006. The EBRD is focusing its contribution to JASPERS on areas in which it has particular expertise, including municipal infrastructure, energy efficiency and renewables, and public-private-partnership projects. We believe that the JASPERS regional office in Warsaw will substantially strengthen the ability to provide input on the ground to the beneficiaries of EU funds in Poland and the Baltic states.

The opening of the Warsaw office is recognition that the new facility will work most effectively with its staff based close to the authorities responsible for the day-to-day management of European programmes and projects. The Warsaw regional office is the first of three regional offices for JASPERS to be established in central and eastern Europe. The other offices will be located in Vienna and Bucharest and are scheduled to open in the coming months.

The JASPERS regional office in Warsaw will accommodate experts from different disciplines - engineers, economists and financial specialists together with support staff - who will help the authorities in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to prepare major investment projects which will be supported by European Union funds from January 2007 onwards. For the period 2007-2013 Poland can receive up to EUR 67.3 billion from EU funds, Estonia EUR 3.5 billion, Latvia EUR 4.6 billion and Lithuania EUR 6.9 billion. The team will be strengthened by experts from the European Commission, the EIB and the EBRD.

The experts in the Warsaw office have already begun work on action plans agreed with the national authorities covering a wide range of investments including road and rail projects, environmental protection, urban public transport and energy projects. The expert team will also provide advice on financing mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships.

Assistance from JASPERS will be provided free of charge to the beneficiaries and is based on the contribution of staff resources from the EIB and the EBRD combined with the financial resources from the technical assistance budget of the European Commission.