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Operational teams of EIB managers and experts, led by Vice-President Pim van Ballekom, visited Namur on Monday morning to meet public and private project operators and the competent authorities from the Walloon Region. This visit was designed to present the EIB's financing opportunities in concrete terms, backed by examples for illustration purposes. This unprecedented work seminar in Belgium was welcomed unanimously by the participants.

Following the announcement of the Juncker Plan (Investment Plan for Europe), this seminar, initiated by the minister-presidents of the Walloon Region, Paul Magnette, and the Walloon Region-Brussels Federation, Rudi Demotte, together with Vice-President Van Ballekom, served to specifically inform enterprises, project operators and promoters in the Walloon Region.

This is a first in Belgium since the European Commission's launch of its investment stimulus plan. At least 250 Walloon project promoters operating in such diverse sectors as the environment, water, energy, urban regeneration, transport, hospitals, school buildings, SME financing and the digital economy met some twenty managers and experts from the EIB on Monday in the Palais des Congrès in Namur.

This morning of intermediation enabled the Walloon operators to learn more about the EIB's offering and approaches to specific sectors and gave the EIB's experts a clear idea of the various projects under appraisal in the Walloon Region. At a time when discussions concerning the revival of investment in the European Union are in full swing, this meeting provided a tangible opportunity for all parties to exchange views and identify the projects in which the EIB might participate.

EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom delivered a firm message to the authorities and project promoters gathered for this work event: "Speak to our teams, consult with us at the earliest possible stage and together let's find solutions for the future of the Region. Productive investment means growth and employment now and the EIB aims to put all its energy into providing these in the Walloon Region." The EIB is committed to collaborating with the Walloon Region and its economic players in the long term and this cooperation may be stepped up under the Juncker Plan.  

At this seminar, the EIB signed two partnership projects concerning the Walloon Region, one with CHC de Liège and the other with SPGE.

The first partnership provides for an EIB loan of EUR 175m, of which EUR 125m immediately, in support of Centre hospitalier chrétien de Liège (CHC). The project concerns the construction in Liège of a new hospital (Clinique du Montlegia), which will replace three old facilities dating back to the early 20th century (Saint-Joseph, Espérance and Saint-Vincent). At present, these facilities are located in three different parts of the Liège region and will thus be consolidated in one single location. The new hospital, which will have a maximum capacity of 737 beds and 120 outpatient places, will bring together all services in a new building outside the city of Liège.

The partnership with SPGE provides for an EIB loan of EUR 200m to Société publique de gestion de l’eau (SPGE) in support of its programme of investment in wastewater collection and treatment and protection of groundwater catchment areas.

At the seminar, the Bank also announced that in April it would open an operational unit based at the Bank's permanent representative office in Brussels.