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17 février 2011

The European Union must increase financial support for Mediterranean countries if it is to help reforms that have begun in the region, said a senior figure in the European Parliament’s main progressive group today.

Ivailo Kalfin, author of a parliamentary report on the European Investment Bank’s external mandate up to 2013, said Socialists and Democrats welcomed the efforts of EU foreign affairs and security policy chief, Catherine Aston, to provide an extra €1 billion under the EIB budget up to 2013 for small- and medium-sized enterprises and to boost infrastructure in the Mediterranean.

 Said Mr Kalfin:  « The European Investment Bank could be a very important tool in supporting the authorities’ efforts to boost reforms in Northern Africa, but it must have a substantially increased EU guarantee to be able to provide the necessary support. 

 « The EIB spent €1.5 billion in 2009 and €2 billion in 2010.  To secure sustainable financing in the region, the ceilings for guarantees should be reconsidered.

« If we would like to give a clear signal to the people of the Mediterranean at this crucial time, we should enable the EIB to maintain the intensity of its activities in the region. »

The European Parliament is to vote on Mr Kalfin’s report tomorrow.  The mandate of the EIB, the only financial institution in the EU that is fully owned by the EU member states, is due to expire in October and it needs to be set new priorities for awarding loans and using its budget.



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