The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the regional government (Xunta) of Galicia have concluded an agreement establishing the terms of cooperation between the two institutions for implementing the JESSICA (1) programme in Galicia. The signing ceremony took place this morning in Santiago de Compostela with the participation of EIB Vice-President, Carlos da Silva Costa, and the Xunta’s Finance Minister, José Ramón Fernández Antonio.

At the ceremony, the EIB Vice-President stressed the Bank’s excellent relations with the Xunta, saying that “Galicia will be the first Spanish region to benefit from this new programme of investment directly aimed at improving the living conditions of the inhabitants of our cities”.

JESSICA is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the EIB, set up in cooperation with the Council of Europe Development Bank, designed to foster investment in urban areas, speed up urban regeneration and improve European cities. To be eligible for financing, projects will have to form part of integrated urban development programmes that ensure their consistency and environmental quality. The JESSICA mechanism makes it possible to channel money from the EU structural funds into projects that are attractive to private enterprise but need public financial support. Once repaid, the funds, along with the return on the investment, can be re-used to finance new urban projects. The implementation of JESSICA, as an instrument of financial cooperation, is provided for in Galicia’s ERDF Operational Programme (2) for the period 2007-2013.

The EIB is the European Union’s long-term financing institution promoting EU objectives. Founded in 1957, it operates in the 27 EU Member States and more than 130 other countries worldwide.

In the last five years, the EIB has lent nearly EUR 30 000 million for urban transport and urban regeneration projects in numerous EU Member States, gaining broad experience of preparing and financing such projects in the process. At the promoters’ request, the Bank will be examining the possibility of contributing its own resources to projects receiving JESSICA financing.

(1) Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas.

(2) The Operational Programmes are detailed strategies for using the structural funds in the period 2007-2013 agreed between the Member States and the European Commission.