Today in Vienna, Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Dirk Ahner, Director General of the Directorate General for Regional Policy in the European Commission and Alexander Auboeck, Business Group Director for Infrastructure at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), opened the new regional office for the JASPERS facility. JASPERS – Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions – is an initiative established in 2006 by the European Commission and the two banks which helps the EU Member States in Central and Eastern Europe to develop high quality projects that will receive support from the EU's Structural and Cohesion Funds.

The majority of the JASPERS experts will be based in regional offices so that they can work closely with the beneficiaries. The Vienna office is the second regional office of JASPERS to be officially opened, following the opening of the first in Warsaw last January. It is already fully staffed and accommodates ten engineers, economists and financial specialists, together with support staff, backed by other expert staff in the European Commission the EIB and the EBRD. The new office is helping the authorities in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia to prepare major investment projects to be supported by European Union funds during the current financing period 2007 – 2013. Vienna has been selected as the location of the office in the central European area for logistical reasons, being centrally located and providing easy access to the four beneficiary countries.

EIB Vice-President Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen commented at the opening ceremony: “In nearly fifty years of existence, the EIB has gained valuable expertise in financing projects in priority areas for EU regional policies. In the new Member States the Bank has provided support to projects contributing to the balanced development of the enlarged Union totalling some EUR 40 billion. The JASPERS office in Vienna is expected to be a significant tool in sharing this expertise, together with our partners from the Commission and the EBRD. It will provide technical assistance to four new Member States in developing projects suitable for EU funding, but also in using the Union’s resources in the best possible way.” Director General Ahner said: "The opening of the JASPERS office in Vienna is an important further step in developing cooperation between the European Commission, the EIB and the EBRD.  Combining the resources and experience of the three partners allows JASPERS to offer more effective assistance to the beneficiary countries, who will be better able to make use of the substantial volume of EU investment funds now available. More effective investment will lead in turn to higher growth and competitiveness, which is the objective of the EU's cohesion policy."

Alexander Auboeck, EBRD’s Business Group Director for Infrastructure, noted: The EBRD has been operating successfully in Central and Eastern Europe since 1991, and its presence in these countries is an important element for implementation of this programme. The Bank 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 Vienna will substantially strengthen the ability to provide input on the ground to the beneficiaries of EU funds in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia.”

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

The opening of the office was preceded by a workshop that presented examples of the work that JASPERS is engaged in and provided a platform for an exchange of views with representatives from the national administrations of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia.

A third regional office of JASPERS has been established in Bucharest to assist the development of projects in Romania and Bulgaria and will be officially opened in June.