Today, Minister for European Affairs and the Electoral Manifesto Louis Grech and President and Chairman of European Investment Bank (EIB) Dr Werner Hoyer discussed the projected development of Marsamxett as a new all-weather harbour to cater mainly for Malta’s tourist industry with a mix of yacht marinas and other commercial developments.

At a meeting at Auberge d’Aragon, Minister Grech explained what the Maltese Government has in mind, in particular the building of a breakwater to stimulate the harbour’s development. Various technical and commercial studies are now being drawn up. The President of the EIB expressed interest in the project and said that the Bank was keen on participating, through the European Fund for Strategic Investments, in any commercially-feasible project presented by the Maltese Government.

Minister Louis Grech and Dr Hoyer said they were happy with the level of cooperation between Malta and the EIB and also the European Investment Fund, which was represented at the meeting by its Chief Executive Pierluigi Gilibert.

The volume of EIB lending in support of the Maltese economy today stands at Euros 440 million. On the other hand, the first SME Initiative transaction concluded with the European Investment Fund (EIF) has extended loans with low interest rates to over 800 Maltese SMEs.

Minister Grech and Dr Hoyer noted with satisfaction that Malta and the EIB are currently working on various proposals, some of which are already in an advanced stage, with a view to agreements being signed that will further boost the economic and financial infrastructure in Malta.

Mr Grech told the EIB/EIF delegation that Malta is keen to offer better and larger financing access to SMEs and in support of infrastructure projects. He reiterated Malta’s position that EFSI should be improved to cater better for small countries and enterprises.

The Minister for European Affairs and the Electoral Manifesto also said that, being a small country, Malta needed to be able to package small projects together and obtain EFSI financing for them, possibly using the upcoming Malta Development Bank as a conduit. Dr Hoyer agreed with this and said that the Bank was working on a new version of EFSI precisely to address these concerns.

Minister Grech also proposed that the EIB cooperate closely with the projected Malta Development Bank in offering financing and by providing technical expertise to the new institution. In reply, Dr Hoyer said that the EIB would be happy to accept both proposals.

The two delegations explored how Malta and the Bank could cooperate to ensure that the European Union rises to the challenges it is facing, especially on the economic and financial fronts.

The two delegations also discussed various aspects of BREXIT, including the impact on the European economy and on the EIB itself because of the UK’s shareholding in it. They agreed that the Union and the Bank could not accept to live in uncertainty beyond the early part of 2017.

Mr Hoyer said he was pleasantly surprised how the themes and priorities that Malta was proposing for its Presidency, as set out by Minister Grech, coincided with its wish-list for the future, and therefore this augured well for cooperation between Malta and the Bank. The EIB was glad to note that the Capital Markets Union is one of the Maltese Presidency’s main priorities.

Source: Government of Malta.