Ioannis Tsakiris, vice-president of the European Investment Bank (EIB), announced a string of new agreements supporting education, small businesses and infrastructure at the Tunisia Investment Forum in Tunis on 12-13 June.

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Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to stand before you today at the official opening of the 21st Tunisia Investment Forum.

As the newly appointed vice-president of the EIB, it is a privilege to make my first official visit outside the European Union to join this forum that will clearly reinforce our collaborative efforts and drive significant positive change for Tunisia, for its people and for Europe.

In my previous role as Greece’s deputy minister for development and investments, not so far away, I have come to witness on many occasions the transformative power of strategic investments and international cooperation.

This forum is a therefore strong catalyst in this regard.

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to his excellency Mr. Ahmed Hachani, head of government, for his warm welcome.

I want to thank her excellency Ms. Féryel Ouerghi Sebaï, minister of economy and planning, and Mr. Jalel Tebib, director general of FIPA, for their kind invitation.

Also, European Commission colleagues and his excellency and EU ambassador to Tunisia, Mr. Cornaro, for our close and successful cooperation.

As well as Mr. Majoul, president of UTICA, for their pivotal role.

This forum represents an opportunity to celebrate our unique partnership under Europe's banner and discuss a shared vision for Tunisia’s prosperity.

It is also an opportunity to move forward with concrete projects and substantial investments.

The EIB has been a staunch supporter of Tunisia’s socio-economic development since 1979.

Over the past decade, we have committed over €2 billion in new financing to bolster key sectors of the Tunisian economy.

Our financing spans several critical sectors of the Tunisian economy:

  • Infrastructure, including transport networks, urban development and public buildings.
  • Energy production and electricity grid improvements that bolster energy security and regional integration.
  • Water and wastewater management to address critical needs in Greater Tunis and other regions.
  • Last, but not least, support for SMEs which is a significant focus of our work in Tunisia, with intermediate loans granted to local banks and microfinance institutions to facilitate access to credit for MSMEs, as well technical assistance to enhance financial inclusion.

The EIB’s presence in Tunisia thus reflects a strategic focus on supporting sustainable and inclusive economic growth, addressing both immediate needs and long-term development goals.

By doing so, our comprehensive support to both the private and public sectors is helping create a more robust environment for sustainable growth, understanding that the development of public infrastructure and services is an enabler of private sector development and overall economic growth.

As the EU bank, our objectives of inclusiveness, development and innovation are all intertwined.

We believe that by pursuing them together, we can lay the foundations for a more integrated and resilient socio-economic fabric in Tunisia, contributing to our shared development goals.

And we are determined to pursue this work.

Today, I signed a grant agreement from European funds for the construction of primary schools, following a previous €40 million loan signed last July.

Tomorrow, we will be celebrating the ELMED project, a state-of-the-art electricity link connecting Tunisia and Italy.

It is a critical project, as it exemplifies our collaborative efforts to build vital infrastructure that supports economic growth and energy security, but also highlighting the importance of regional integration and the shared benefits of such initiatives.

We will also be highlighting a new support package SMEs with a €170 million loan. This operation will allocate at least 30% of funds to projects promoting social inclusion, specifically targeting women, youth employment, socially excluded groups and disadvantaged regions.

This is essential in the current economic context. SMEs are the backbone of the Tunisian economy, providing jobs and opportunities in every corner of the country. By supporting them, we are nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation and economic resilience.

Finally, we will sign a €210 million financing agreement for the upgrade of the Sfax-Kasserine Road.  We are delighted to support this project, which will bring tangible socio-economic benefits by enhancing connectivity, reducing regional disparities. This is a testament to our commitment to fostering balanced development, in line with the Paris objectives and the sustainable development objectives - which are essential criteria for all our projects.

I look forward to engaging with you throughout this forum, getting to know you, and discovering the beauty and dynamism of Tunisia.

Let us seize this opportunity to strengthen our partnerships, explore new avenues for collaboration, and work towards a brighter future for Tunisia and the Mediterranean region.

Thank you for your kind attention.