Belgium: EIB and the Juncker Plan - EU loan of around EUR 200m for Liège's future tram
31 January 2019
An EIB loan of around EUR 200m to Tram’Ardent under the Juncker Plan for Liège's future tram
First large-scale public private partnership (PPP) in the Walloon Region
This major infrastructure project for the city and the region is designed to enhance traffic flow, facilitate travel, improve air quality and residents’ quality of life
The city of Liège in Belgium will be able to breathe better with improved traffic flow thanks to a revamped transport service with the tram system at its heart. This PPP project is now on track thanks to the support of both the EU, via the EIB and the Juncker Plan, and sound financial partners.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a finance contract worth around EUR 200m with the Tram’Ardent consortium, the service provider chosen by the Walloon Region, which will supply the rolling stock and be responsible for the construction and maintenance of a maiden 11.5km tram line serving Liège city centre. Covering almost 50% of the total project cost, this very long-term loan, spread over three decades, is guaranteed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) – the financial pillar of the Juncker Plan – deployed by the EIB.
The new tram system is intended to trigger a major shift in the city of Liège, i.e. encourage its inhabitants to favour public over private transport, which is expected to not only reduce travel times within the city but also cut CO2 emissions and enhance the quality of life in the city. A revised urban development plan with the tram project at its heart will aim to improve the living conditions and comfort of the users and residents.
EIB Director General Jean-Christophe Laloux said at the official ceremony in Namur on 31 January 2019: “I am pleased to announce that the EIB has mobilised the resources of the Juncker Plan for the financing of this project. This cooperation between the European Commission and the EU bank will help to improve the lives of the people of Liège in practical terms. This commitment alongside our Liège tram partners is the very essence of the European project, working for the benefit of the people.”
EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc stated: “I am very happy for the people of Liège who, thanks to the support of the Juncker Plan, will have a modern, rapid tram line serving the city centre. The tram should also help the entire city to breathe better thanks to the improved quality of air. This project, which promotes clean urban mobility, contributes directly to our EU ‘net zero emissions by 2050’ target and I hope that it will inspire other European cities.”
The EIB signed a second tranche worth €40 million for the rehabilitation of 180 kilometres of road along the five main routes in Montenegro. The loan from the EU bank is complemented by a €1.5 million technical assistance grant awarded under the Economic Resilience Initiative (ERI). It is the first ERI grant to be awarded to a project in the Western Balkans. The total EIB investment worth €80 million is expected to increase road safety and efficiency and facilitate faster economic recovery and regional trade.
The Italian healthcare system is also being reinforced to tackle the emergency situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is being conducted with the backing of the EU bank, the EIB, which is providing the Italian government with a €2 billion loan covering around two-thirds of the resources needed for the operations contained in the Decree for revival of the healthcare system
The EIB has signed an €11.8 million EU grant with Bosnia and Herzegovina to finance the construction of the 6.9 km-long Tarčin-Ivan section of the pan-European Corridor Vc. The EU grant comes from the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) and complements an earlier EIB loan worth €40.4 million approved by the EU bank for the same section of the Corridor Vc. For the entire section including the 1 720 m long double-tube Tunnel Ivan, the European Union has provided a total of €23.3 million in grants in addition to financing provided by the EIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), complementing funds provided by Bosnia and Herzegovina. This agreement marks another important step forward for EU assistance to the country in the construction of the Corridor Vc.