President of the Rhône-Alpes Region Jean-Jack QUEYRANNE and Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Philippe de FONTAINE VIVE signed a loan contract for EUR 500m on Wednesday 14 May 2014 at the André Paillot agricultural lycée in Saint-Genis-Laval (Rhône). The funds will be used to finance renovation and modernisation work (in progress or to be completed by 2018) in lycées, apprenticeship training centres (CFA) and healthcare and social training institutes (IFSS) in the Rhône-Alpes region. A second tranche may bring this loan up to EUR 1.05bn.

The Region, which owns 4.3 million m² of state lycée facilities, has substantial financing requirements for the rehabilitation of the establishments within its boundaries and improvements in their energy efficiency, accessibility for people with reduced mobility and digital networks.

With energy costs in Rhône-Alpes lycées amounting to EUR 39m in 2013 due to price increases, emphasis will be placed on enhancing the energy efficiency of the school buildings in order to obtain the BBC (Low-Consumption Building) or HQE (High Environmental Quality) labels. The funds are also aimed at creating 2 000 additional boarding school places (10% of current capacity) as well as rehabilitating existing places.

«In Rhône-Alpes, it is our aim to provide every young person in the region a modern, energy-efficient living and learning environment, conducive to academic success», explained Jean-Jack QUEYRANNE«The use of innovative financing arrangements, such as the loan provided by the EIB, helps to pave the way for the future of Rhône-Alpes youth, while paying particular attention to the Region's finances and budgetary equilibrium».

«I am delighted with this agreement with the Rhône-Alpes Region,» remarked Philippe de FONTAINE VIVE. «Against a backdrop of economic crisis and high unemployment among young people, initiatives in support of education and the development of skills are essential to ensure the professional success of future generations. I am therefore very pleased that the EIB is involved in this major programme. This project is a perfect example of what the EU is actually doing for young people.»

This loan is the fifth operation with the Region following the financing of projects in the energy efficiency and transport sectors. It echoes the EIB’s unprecedented activity to support projects promoting growth and employment in France, for which the Bank already dedicated EUR 7.8bn in 2013 (80% more than in 2012).