The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport have signed a framework agreement for the financing of works provided for under the Italian Government’s Ten-Year Strategic Infrastructure Plan.

Under the terms of the agreement, the EIB and the Ministry will step up their collaboration with a view to identifying projects covered by the Ten-Year Plan that are eligible for financing by the Bank. They will also jointly define the most appropriate financing structures and share the skills acquired by the Bank in its European operations, in the areas of structured and project finance, e.g. on issues such as competitive and negotiated procedures for the awarding of concessions under public-private partnership arrangements.

The volume of finance that the EIB will be able to provide in support of economically sustainable infrastructure projects will be some EUR 15 billion over the five-year period 2008-2012.

The agreement was signed in Luxembourg by the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Altero Matteoli, the EIB President, Philippe Maystadt, and EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco, with responsibility for financing operations in Italy, Malta and the Western Balkans.

“The agreement concluded today with the European Investment Bank will enable Italy to resume its investment in infrastructure in a determined manner”, commented Minister Matteoli.

“On this front”, added the Minister, “Italy is lagging far behind other countries, which is stifling its growth and preventing it from developing its economy and competing with its European and world partners. In the face of the current serious international economic and financial crisis, the Italian Government is moving to find the adequate resources to put in place the key infrastructure needed by the country. EIB finance is an important element of this drive. We will also be aiming to facilitate investment by private parties via public-private partnerships. In that sense we have modified the contracts code to encourage private investment by offering more flexible rules, definite times and leaner procedures”.

“Signing this agreement represents a qualitative leap in relations between the EIB and the Italian Administration”, observed EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco. “It formalises and strengthens the EIB’s commitment to supporting the Italian Government’s Ten-Year Plan, facilitating and expanding the options for financing strategic infrastructure, in particular priority infrastructure associated with the completion of the Italian sections of the European transport network”. “With this agreement", added Mr Scannapieco, “the EIB is making available to the Italian Government its expertise in structuring the financing of major infrastructure works“.

As in the past, EIB financing may take the form of investment promoted directly by the Ministry or by State administrations and public enterprises, Regions, regional public bodies and concession-holders.

The Ministry in Piazzale Porta Pia will organise meetings with these counterparties to inform them of the potential availability of finance from the EIB under the terms of this Agreement.

The loans may be intermediated by first-class banks or take the form of structured and project finance.

Lastly, the Ministry will, in conjunction with the EIB, examine the opportunities for co-financing with the funds available through programmes of the European Union.

Note to editors:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) grants loans with the aim of modernising the economies of the EU’s Member States and Neighbour Countries. Outside the EU, the EIB’s financing activities are governed by a series of Union mandates designed to underpin the development cooperation policies in the Partner Countries. In 2007, the EIB lent EUR 47.8 billion for projects promoting the political objectives of the European Union, of which 41.4 billion to the 27 Member States and 5.6 billion to Italy. The Bank raised EUR 55 billion on the capital markets for its financing activities via 236 bond issues denominated in 23 different currencies. The EIB’s shareholders are the EU Member States. It has a AAA credit rating and is the world’s leading supranational issuer.