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The "Amsterdam Special Action Programme (ASAP)" of the EIB

Following the Amsterdam European Council resolution on Growth and Employment of June 1997, the European Investment Bank launched a three year "Amsterdam Special Action Programme (ASAP)". ASAP has been approved by the Bank's Board of Directors at a special meeting in July 1997 and by the EIB's Board of Governors (the EU Finance Ministers) during the summer 1997.

The focus is on stepping up the financing of efficient infrastructure, including environmental protection and urban environment projects, indirect but essential support for job-creating ventures, and on extending activities in the labour intensive areas of education and health. New action will also be taken to expand support for technology related and high-growth small and medium-sized enterprises and to widen their access to crucial venture capital and thus their capacity to create competitive and stable new jobs.

The main elements of the EIB's ASAP consist of:

  • A special window for new instruments to help finance technology related and high-growth SMEs, to be backed by recourse to the EIB's surpluses. The Bank's Governors have agreed that the EIB can commit up to a total of Euro 1 billion of its surpluses over the next three years to support such initiatives. The EIB is currently developing new financing schemes under which SMEs can benefit from risk-sharing or subordinated finance and venture capital facilities.

  • The European Technology Facility (ETF), with a budget of 125 MEuro has been launched in November 1997 in cooperation with the European Investment Fund to provide venture and equity capital for high-technology and fast growing SME projects.

  • Developing the EIB's financing in the areas of education, health, urban renewal and environmental protection. The Bank has begun examining larger education and health projects in Germany, Greece and Spain, and global loans (line of credit to a local bank for supporting small-scale ventures) are being arranged for such investment in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. At the same time, existing global loans for infrastructure projects are being extended to include health and education schemes. The Bank is also fine-tuning its facilities for urban renewal and environment protection investment (an area where it is already active - Euro 4 to 6 billion p.a.).

  • A new impetus to the financing of Trans-European Networks (TENs) and other large infrastructure investment, by developing aspects of the EIB's TENs Special Window, including extra-long grace periods and maturities, special tailor-made financing packages, earlier involvement in project preparation, and strengthening support for public-private partnership initiatives. The EIB is already a major financier of TENs investment - Euro 6 to 7 billion p.a. over the last three years. As a start, the Bank is currently examining the possibility of accelerating and increasing the financing of TENs investment in Belgium, Germany and Italy. For larger infrastructure and environmental projects the EIB may, in special cases, consider raising loan amounts to beyond its normal 50% limit of project cost, and provide support for project preparation by financing feasibility studies.

Innovative SMEs willing to benefit from the "Amsterdam Special Action Programme (ASAP)" will have to contact directly the financial intermediaries which are selected by the EIB or they can first seek guidance on innovation financing sources and how to prepare for them from the Gate2Growth Initiative .

List of Venture Capital funds participating in the EIF's equity operations and the ETF Facility  

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