On Monday 7 July in Rouen, the European Investment Bank (EIB) granted its first loan for the development of eco-districts in France, in the presence of Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, who was the driving force behind this European financing initiative within his remit at CREA, the Metropolitan Community of Rouen-Elbeuf-Austreberthe (Métropole Rouen Normandie).

The EUR 76m financing package will focus on the rehabilitation and conversion of derelict industrial sites in the centre of Rouen, on either side of the River Seine, into two attractive and financially accessible eco-districts (Flaubert and Luciline) for the future inhabitants of the area. The finance contract was signed on Monday 7 July 2014 by Frédéric Sanchez, President of Métropole Rouen Normandie, Yvon Robert, Mayor of Rouen, and EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive.

Based on attractive financial conditions in terms of maturity and rates, thanks to the EIB's AAA rating, this is a crucial operation for Métropole Rouen Normandie. As part of the large-scale Seine-West redevelopment project, it will eventually enable the almost 12 500 people concerned to benefit from two areas of top-quality inner-city living: the eco-districts of Flaubert (promoted by Métropole Rouen Normandie) and Luciline (promoted by the City of Rouen) will be equipped with high environmental performance housing, recreational areas and community centres, as well as local businesses and services.  New economic activities will also be created to support employment and enhance the attractiveness of the area.

EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive welcomed the signature in the following terms, "I am very pleased to sign the EIB's first loan in France to support eco-districts with the Métropole and the City of Rouen. This is a key operation and, on top of that, a major project that sets an example at national level: it is environmentally-friendly and at the same time innovative and socially responsible. This is how Europe works: first and foremost, concrete action in the heart of the towns and regions, preparing the future for our younger generations."

Frédéric SANCHEZ, President of Métropole Rouen Normandie, commented, "This loan from the European Investment Bank constitutes a double acknowledgement for us and our sound and rigorous management that lends us the credibility to implement large-scale projects for Métropole Rouen Normandie. The EIB strongly believes in and is committed to the development of our region. These two major urban projects, the Flaubert and Luciline eco-districts, reflect the dynamism of the Métropole and contribute to making us one of France's 12 metropolitan areas."

Yvon ROBERT, Mayor of Rouen, stated, "Today's signing of the finance contract with the EIB for the Flaubert and Luciline eco-districts highlights the European Union's recognition of the ambitious projects promoted by the Métropole and the City of Rouen to regenerate brownfield sites and, ultimately, to develop our territory and the well-being of its inhabitants". He went on to say, "In only a few months from now, the first occupants will be able to move into Luciline. Eventually, 1 000 homes, of which a quarter will be social housing units and another quarter affordable housing units, will be built on the site, and space will be provided for businesses and services. We are also particularly proud of the fact that Luciline was the only project in France to be included in the EU's 'Future Cities – urban networks to face climate change' programme. Our particular attention to energy issues and our desire to innovate in this area, without doubt, played an important rôle in the EIB's decision to support us. "

In France, the EIB’s action in support of sustainable development has taken the form of massive investment: more than EUR 5 billion in new loans since January 2013, targeting concrete projects at national, regional and local level, with a view to mitigating the effects of climate change.