EBRD president sees investments flowing to Tunisia in September this year

The President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) this week visited Tunisia, cradle of the 'Arab Spring', and said he expected EBRD funds to start flowing to the country in September this year.
Protests in Tunisia triggered a wave of political change across countries of the Middle East and North Africa over the last year and a half. In response to calls from the international community, the EBRD is extending its mandate to the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region to support much-needed economic reforms in the region.
Along with Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan are all seeking to benefit from EBRD funding.
During his visit to Tunisia, his first official trip to the region, President EBRD Thomas Mirow held discussions with senior Tunisian officials, including Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Riadh Bettaieb, and Central Bank Governor Mustapha Kamal Nabli.
Mirow underscored the EBRD’s commitment to supporting economic development across the SEMED region, applying to these new countries its 20 years of experience in supporting transition in eastern and central Europe.
Speaking at a news conference in Tunis today, the EBRD President said, “By the beginning of September we expect to begin investments in Tunisia in a number of projects.”
He drew parallels with central and eastern Europe, which the EBRD has been supporting since its creation shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. “The EBRD was created 20 years ago in similar circumstances. We are aware of the needs of countries in transition and we can offer our expertise and our knowhow to Tunisia,” President Mirow said.
The Bank’s operations will focus on strengthening the financial sector and developing the private sector in Tunisia and the SEMED countries. The Bank’s emphasis will be to encourage the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises – fertile ground for job creation, in a region where, in particular, youth unemployment is a major problem.
The EBRD has the capacity to invest, in the medium term, up to €2.5 billion a year across the SEMED region. Any decision by shareholders to begin full-scale investments will take into account political and economic reforms undertaken in the relevant countries.
The EBRD was established in 1991 in response to major changes in the political and economic climate in central and eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin wall. Last year, in response to the events of the Arab Spring, it agreed to extend its operations into the southern Mediterranean region. The EBRD finances projects, primarily in the private sector, that serve the transition to market economies and pluralistic democratic societies. The Bank is owned by 61 countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Read more
Press release
EBRD fact sheet – The EBRD’s activities in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region
EBRD launches Transition to Transition Initiative, a supportive framework for the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED)
ENPI Info Centre – EBRD starts activities in southern Mediterranean with €59 million raised for Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia (14-12-11)
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage – Tunisia

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