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HomeInterviewEUROMED REVIVAL PLAN FOR THE SOUTH ECONOMIES IN 2009

EUROMED REVIVAL PLAN FOR THE SOUTH ECONOMIES IN 2009

Philippe De Fontaine Vive is vice-president of the European Investment Bank. He attended the “Enterprise Days” held in Sousse where he advocated the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM). We met him for a discussion on the projects of the European Union for the South. The representative of EU financial arm announced that a plan to revive Euromed in aid of the economies of the South could be launched in 2009 or 2010. He particularly mentioned projects being worked out by UPM in favour of the southern shore of the Mediterranean.
He announced that the EIB is finalizing a financing agreement with the Tunisian chemical group, due to the fact that the phosphate sector is absolutely essential for the Tunisian economy especially for   the chemical industry. It is and it is a good sector which illustrates efforts we are making in both  public and  private sector.
Furthermore, he added, when we deal with the private sector, we expect that business goes through, the aim being to increase the production capacity and to create jobs. I hope that this should be finalized during the coming months”, he said.
Regarding UPM, M De Fontaine Vive said that the EU is 50 years old  whereas UPM was launched six months ago .”We are in the process of creation something new and  revolutionary insofar as UPM is jointly chaired by a Mediterranean head of state and a European one. A decision taken in Marseille on November 4, creates a general secretariat involving representatives from 6 countries. It is something completely new, he said pointing out that UPM is built an launched through projects related to the Mediterranean cleanup,  solar plan, sea highways and support provided to SMEs.
The solar example which is part of the 6 priorities identified is a very concrete one. 71 projects were submitted by Mediterranean countries and not 11. On November 22, 2008; representatives of Mediterranean countries as well as industrialists and investors gathered in Paris. This is not a temporary move, because these 71 projects will be outlined and it will be referred to governments for endorsement. The bankers, who were in Sousse, know that, as early as next March, when each government will respond, projects will be checked in terms of location, technology and funding.
As for projects in Tunisia, he said that “these projects will be open to everyone and there will be no monopoly. Each Government will take on these priority projects and asks who is willing to finance them. Instead of waiting for major programming to be made in Brussels between States, we do exactly the opposite, and that is why it is revolutionary. We deal with the reality of entrepreneurs on the ground as well as projects included in each country. For example in Tunisia, the point is to check whether the project targets solar energy, or wind energy or power connection between Tunisia and Italy. This being, funding operations start. It is a very pragmatic approach”.
“The point is not to know whether there’s a certain amount of available money  we do not really know how and where to spend . What matters is where are the projects that can be launched within two years, prior to the next summit of heads of state which is scheduled to succeed that of Paris.  Therefore, projects which would have required ten years to be materialized will be launched much sooner, even now”.
Regarding the call for a  EuroMed  fund for the revival of the Mediterranean economy, M De Fontaine Vive  said that each of us has his own decisions. The European Investment Bank, by definition, is a community. The call aims to mobilize everyone. Europeans need to see, in 2009 and 2010, their neighbours, including Mediterranean neighbours doing well, and being better.
“Today the Mediterranean economies are not experiencing a crisis. So, funding provided. for are maintained.  I think that if next year or the year after it a decline begins , we should respond adequately”, added M De Fontaine Vive  .

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