Dario Scannapieco, European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President, and Agazio Loiero, President of the Calabria Region, today signed a EUR 400 million loan from the EIB to finance projects provided for in the Regional Operating Programme for  Calabria. The EIB will advance a further EUR 50 million to support the activities of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The loan will supplement the contributions from the Structural Funds (Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund) for the period 2007-2013 and finance the bulk of the Operating Programme’s regional components, with the remainder coming from Community, national and private resources.

Regional Operating Programme projects in the following sectors are eligible for EIB financing: energy, the environment, transport networks and SMEs.

This is the Bank’s first direct loan to Calabria and the very first to a Convergence Objective Region[1] under the new 2007-2013 Structural Funds programming cycle.

The first operation provides for a direct loan of EUR 400 million to the Region to co-finance infrastructure while the EUR 50 million loan for SMEs will be intermediated by banking institutions.

“I am delighted to sign this agreement, which confirms the EIB’s commitment to supporting the development of southern Italy and is the culmination of many months of intensive work on both sides”, remarked Mr Scannapieco. “This loan to the Calabria Region contains an innovative element compared with the agreements concluded in the past with other Regions in Italy”, added the EIB Vice-President, “because it is not confined to financing the Regional Operating Programme but also includes technical assistance from EIB staff in arranging and implementing particularly complex operations. In other words, apart from providing the financial resources, the EIB will work together with the Region to ensure the quality of the investments.”

[1] The Convergence Regions are Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily.