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President Hoyer met with Fathallah Sijilmassi, secretary general of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) on Thursday 26 April. They discussed ongoing sectoral cooperation between the EIB and UfM which should reflect the new priorities of the countries following the Arab Spring, notably job creation and improvement of social and economic conditions for the population across the region. It was M Sijilmassi's first visit to the EIB.

In line with EIB operational plan to provide EUR 2.3 billion to the Mediterranean partner countries between 2012 and 2013, Werner Hoyer confirmed that the Bank will support UfM related priorities. In a first phase, the Bank could provide EUR 500 m to support mature UfM projects that comply with the economic, financial and environmental criteria of the EIB. Between 2009 and 2011, the EIB signed EUR 5.2 bn of projects with Mediterranean partner countries, with more than half of the amount dedicated to UfM related priorities (EUR 2.8 bn).

"Mediterranean partner countries are undergoing fundamental changes", President Hoyer said. " The people in many of these countries did not only stand up for democracy but also for food and prosperity. The role of the EIB is to encourage them to modernise and open up their economies by supporting private sector development and creating an investment-friendly environment– just as we are following this path within the European Union. This is the purpose of our already fruitful cooperation with the UfM and I look forward to developing a pipeline of new bankable projects for the Mediterranean together with the Commission and international and bilateral financial institutions" he added.

These project preparation schemes are expected to generate a volume of additional projects amounting to over EUR 1.2bn.

Current schemes are available in the areas of renewable energy under the Mediterranean Solar Plan and Water De-pollution (Horizon 2020) and could be extended to sustainable urban development and other sectors. Provision of grants from the European Commission to design bankable projects through feasibility and pre-feasibility studies is expected to facilitate their financing by international and bilateral financing institutions.

"I was very pleased to meet President Hoyer and I believe we share the same vision" stated Secretary General Sijilmassi. "The EIB is a major partner of the UfM as illustrated in the excellent collaboration developed in the framework of our joint Memorandum of Understanding. By working hand in hand with the EIB, the European Commission and the European External Action Service, we expect to achieve concrete results in the near future through the promotion of flagship projects that create jobs and impact the day to day life of women and men in the region. My visit today to the EIB confirms our readiness to step-up this partnership and drive projects that can unleash the region’s potential as a reservoir for growth" he concluded.