With this loan of EUR 1 billion, the European Investment Bank aims to make a decisive contribution to Campania’s regional development plan for 2007-2013. The operation was signed today in Naples by EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco and the President of the Campania Region, Antonio Bassolino.

At the same time, Dario Scannapieco signed with the Campania Region, on behalf of the European Investment Fund, an institution owned by the EIB, the first JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) agreement in Italy to establish a holding fund, in which the Campania Region will invest EUR 90 million.

The EUR 1 billion loan from the EIB will be dedicated in particular to projects in the environmental, tourism, transport and urban renewal sectors. However, to maintain the flexibility required to implement Campania’s regional development plan, other sectors may be added as a result of specific analysis and in agreement with the Bank. Furthermore, projects costing more than EUR 25 million will be subject to special appraisal by the EIB.

Campania will finance its share of the regional development plan (EUR 1.2 billion) via the EUR 200 million provided to the region by the European Social Fund and the EIB loan, without resorting to other sources of financing. These resources supplement the EU funds and the implementation of the financing plan will help Campania to meet the objectives of the regional development plan.

Meanwhile, the new JEREMIE holding fund will provide, via financial intermediaries, resources to be deployed in the form of loan portfolio guarantees, venture capital and microcredits to innovative start-ups, micro-enterprises and local SMEs. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will supply the fund’s resources, which will be managed by the Campania Region.

“The operations signed today confirm the EIB Group’s commitment to supporting the development of Campania, which along with Calabria, Puglia and Sicily is one of Italy’s Convergence Objective regions. These regions are an operational priority for the Bank”, remarked Mr Scannapieco. “This loan to the Region, like the EUR 400 million loan signed recently with Calabria, includes technical assistance from EIB staff to the Region in arranging and implementing particularly complex operations. Apart from providing the financial resources, the EIB will therefore work together with the Region to ensure the quality of the investments.”

“The creation of the first JEREMIE holding fund in Campania", added Mr Scannapieco, "is a real innovation for Italy. Campania is, in fact, the first region to show its willingness to adopt this facility, which fills a current gap in the market. JEREMIE is intended to promote new and micro-enterprises via various financial instruments such as loans, microcredits, venture capital or guarantees. The JEREMIE operation signed today, associated in general with the activities of the EIB, also reaffirms the EIB Group’s commitment to supporting the development of SMEs, a key business segment for the national economy that might particularly feel the effects of the current financial crisis“.

“Thanks to this important agreement with the EIB”, declared the President of the Campania Region, Antonio Bassolino, “it will be possible to speed up the financing of projects provided for in the European Regional Development Fund’s Operating Programme for 2007-2013. This loan acknowledges the reliability of the Campania Region”, emphasised Mr Bassolino, “and bolsters its reputation in the eyes of the international community. The terms of the loan, which are altogether favourable, will help to quicken the pace of investment in infrastructure and the supply of public facilities, thereby reducing the extent of the Region’s financial burden”.

Campania’s 2007-2013 regional development plan, amounting to EUR 6.8 billion, is the result of an integrated approach involving Structural Funds programming and national and regional resources (Underused Areas Fund). For the first time, the two programming exercises share the same objectives and apply to the same period.

Campania has in the past benefited from EIB financing. The EUR 300 million loan for the region’s development under the Regional Operational Programme 2000-2006, approved by the Bank in 2001, was deployed in full and used according to the set objectives.

Note to editors

The European Investment Bank (EIB) supports the political and strategic objectives of the European Union by granting long-term loans for economically sound investment projects. The EIB’s shareholders are the 27 EU Member States. Italy is one of the four leading shareholders, along with the United Kingdom, Germany and France, each holding a 16.2% stake in the Bank. In 2007, the EIB advanced loans amounting to EUR 47.8 billion, of which EUR 5.6 billion to Italy, and it raised funds totalling EUR 54.7 billion. The EIB’s financing priorities within the EU are support for social and economic cohesion and convergence; research and innovation; the development of trans-European networks (TENs); support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); environmental protection and the urban environment; and sustainable, competitive and secureenergy supplies.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) was established in 1994 to support SMEs. Its majority shareholder is the European Investment Bank, with which the Fund forms the “EIB Group”. The EIF provides venture capital to SMEs, particularly start-ups, and for technology-oriented activities. It also provides guarantees to financial institutions to secure their loans to SMEs. The Fund operates in the EU Member States, Croatia, Turkey and the three EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) is a joint initiative launched by the European Commission and the EIF to improve SMEs’ access to financing under the 2007-2013 Framework Programme for Structural Funds. JEREMIE enables EU Member States and Regions to re-invest part of their subsidies from Structural Funds (ERDF and ESF) to support innovative start-ups and micro-enterprises via various financial engineering instruments such as loans, microcredits, venture capital or guarantees, in cooperation with the EIB Group.

Along with Puglia, Calabria and Sicily, Campania is one of the four Italian regions that meet EU convergence criteria and are therefore eligible for Structural Funds support.

With around 5.8 million inhabitants or 10% of the country’s population, Campania is the second most populated region in Italy. The predominant demographic profile is young and the region has Italy’s highest percentage of population under the age of 15. The region’s economy (GDP of over EUR 90 billion) accounted for around 6% of Italy’s gross national product in 2006. GDP per capita – 65% of the national average – is among the lowest in Italy.