This will allow neighbouring partner countries to leverage increased funding for major investment projects in key areas such as energy, transport and environment, as well as in the social sector (for projects such as construction of schools and hospitals). Private sector development will also be encouraged, targeting especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle commented: ‘We are encouraged by the positive results already achieved through this instrument during the past two years. Projects supported represent total investments of close to €8.5bn so far. Today’s decision underlines our commitment to support our neighbours in key sectors such as environment, transport or provision of health and social services. I’m happy to see that with the approval of 13 projects through NIF in 2009, the EU has paved the way for significantly improving basic infrastructures in the fields of water, sustainable energy and urban transport in our partner countries. The Facility and its multiplying effect are also powerful instruments to support the economic recovery of our neighbours and trigger additional job and growth creation through large investment projects.’
Through the NIF, the Commission provides grant support for lending operations of European Development Finance Institutions in EU Neighbourhood countries. The EU Budget contribution is complemented by direct contributions from 15 member states.
The NIF was officially launched in May 2008 in order to strengthen overall EU grant support for lending operations carried out by European multilateral and bilateral development finance institutions in ENP partner countries. Projects already funded cover a wide range of sectors, from the construction of a 200 MW wind-farm in the Gulf of Al-Zeit in Egypt to the modernisation of Chisinau clinical hospital in the Republic of Moldova or the extension and rehabilitation of a number of waste water treatment plants and pumping stations in Tunisia. Moreover the NIF enabled the establishment of a European Neighbourhood Fund supporting SMEs particularly affected by the financial crisis in the Eastern Neighbourhood.