Initial loans totalling EUR 200 million for local firms
Today in Rome, in the presence of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Abruzzo Region signed two cooperation agreements designed to support the economic recovery of areas hit hard by last April's earthquake.
The two agreements concern the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and urban regeneration.
The EIB was represented by Vice-President Dario Scannapieco and the Abruzzo Region by President Giovanni Chiodi.
The EIB has already earmarked EUR 100 million for implementing the framework agreement on the financing of Abruzzo's SMEs. The EIB money will be channelled small and medium-sized businesses and artisans through local banks selected by the Region, which have pledged to provide matching funding of the same amount. Thanks to today's agreement, loans totalling EUR 200 million will therefore be made available to Abruzzo's SMEs over the coming months.
The SME loans are aimed at firms with fewer than 250 employees and projects with a maximum cost of EUR 25 million.
As far as the terms of the loans are concerned, the intermediary banks undertake to pass on to their SME borrowers the benefits of the EIB's AAA-rated funding advantage on the international markets. To support the determined efforts of local businesses to rebuild after the earthquake, the EIB has decided to further reduce the cost of the funds that it is providing to the intermediary banks.
The agreement on urban reconstruction and regeneration provides for Abruzzo to set up an urban development fund within the existing framework of the EU JESSICA initiative (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas - an instrument based on the use of the structural funds). It has been decided to deploy EUR 30 million in Abruzzo's four provincial capitals, possibly supplemented by additional private or public sector funds. Synergies are also envisaged between this instrument and other existing measures, such as government reconstruction initiatives, the Housing Plan (Piano Casa) and the actions of all institutional bodies involved in the rebuilding effort.
The European Investment Bank supports the strategic and policy objectives of the European Union by granting long-term loans for economically viable investment projects. The EIB's shareholders are the 27 EU Member States. Italy is one of the four leading shareholders, along with the United Kingdom, Germany and France, each holding a 16.2% stake in the Bank.
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