Today in Bucharest, 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 are based in regional offices so that they can work closely with the beneficiaries. The Bucharest office is the third regional office of JASPERS to be officially opened, following the opening of the Warsaw and Vienna offices earlier this year. It accommodates 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 Bulgaria and Romania to prepare major investment projects to be supported by European Union funds during the current financing period 2007 – 2013.
EIB President Philippe Maystadt commented on the office inauguration: “The JASPERS Office which we have opened today in Bucharest, only a few months after the accession of Bulgaria and Romania into the Union, will assist both countries to prepare projects to be financed by EU Funds. This new office enhances the network of JASPERS regional offices that now serves all the new Member States in central and eastern Europe on a regional basis, in an effort to help them use EU funding in the most effective and economical way”.
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 exceeding EUR 40 billion. The JASPERS office in Bucharest 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 new Member States that joined the Union in 2007 in developing projects suitable for EU funding, but also in using the Union’s resources in the best possible way.
Director General Ahner said: "Strengthening cooperation between the European Commission and international financial institutions, in particular the EIB and the EBRD, is a key element of our policy to make cohesion policy more effective. The opening of the JASPERS office in Bucharest is another important step in this process and it will provide the two newest Member States of the European Union with expert assistance from the three partners in JASPERS which will help them to make the best use of the substantial investment funds now available to them. More effective investment will lead in turn to improved competitiveness and higher growth 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 Romania and Bulgaria since 1991, having invested EUR 3.3 and EUR 1.4 billion respectively in sectors ranging from energy, infrastructure and telecommunications, to banking, agriculture and industry. Working with its partners from the public and private sector, the Bank has mobilised around EUR 6.2 billion in additional investments in Romania and EUR 4 billion in Bulgaria, many of which have been for infrastructure and SME projects co-financed with the EU. We believe that the JASPERS regional office in Bucharest will substantially strengthen the ability of the JASPERS partners to provide input on the ground to the beneficiaries of EU funds in Romania and Bulgaria.”
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.