During a conference in Beirut, the European Union unveiled today an ambitious External Investment Plan (EIP), which is designed to boost investments and support more inclusive and sustainable development in the European Neighbourhood and Africa.
"The External Investment Plan is more than just another of the European Union financing instruments. The presentation of it here in Beirut today is a very strong signal of the confidence that the EU has in the potential of this country," EU Ambassador Christina Lassen said in her opening remarks. "Moreover, it proves that we stand side by side with Lebanon on its path to sustainable economic growth, and finally that we support the efforts to respond to the demands of Lebanese citizens for economic opportunities and the creation of jobs," she added.
The conference presented the EIP to the private and public sectors. Participants discussed the challenges and potential in some of the initial sectors to be covered by the EIP. These sectors are: sustainable energy and connectivity, MSMEs, agriculture, sustainable cities and digitalisation. It was inaugurated by Ambassador Lassen, Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani, and Economic Advisor at the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Nadim Munla. Director for the Neighbourhood South at the European Commission Mr Michael Koehler and European Investment Bank Director for Neighbouring countries Ms Flavia Palanza presented the main features and innovations of the EIP.
Through the EIP, the EU will support Lebanon's public and private sectors and subsequent economic growth directly, by improving access to finance, but also by allowing enterprises to invest into infrastructure projects, in partnership with the government and financial authorities. Dialogue with the private sector in Lebanon will therefore be instrumental in helping the EU identify obstacles for investment that can then be addressed through various means of support.
The EIP aims at mobilising a large volume of investments (especially from the private sector) to fulfil economic and social development in EU partner countries. It relies on business and investment climate improvements in these countries, and is therefore based on close cooperation with entrusted financial institutions and reinforced dialogue. To prepare the ground for the EIP, the EU is engaging in reinforced dialogue with its partners, particularly the business communities, across the Neighbourhood Region. Under the EIP it is expected that the EU will mobilise a contribution of €4.1 billion that will leverage up to €44 billion of investments from public and private sector from 2017 until 2020.