The EBRD is well placed to help southern and eastern Mediterranean countries make the transition to economic and political pluralism.
Indeed, the G8 has described the EBRD as a “unique instrument” in its work in “central and eastern European countries engaged in the same dynamics”.
“The changes underway in the Middle East and North Africa are historic and have the potential to open the door to the kind of transformation that occurred in central and eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” the G8 declared in its statement on the “Arab Spring” approved at Deauville in May 2011.
Donors to the Bank, including the European Union and contributors to the SEMED Multi-Donor Account (funded by Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom) supported the first phase of the EBRD’s involvement in the new region through technical cooperation activities in preparation of investment projects.
The EBRD’s shareholders approved the creation of a €1 billion special fund to launch investments in the four countries at its Annual Meeting in London in May 2012.
The first investments in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco were given the go-ahead in September 2012.
By December 2014 the EBRD had invested €1.5 billion across the region in a total of 53 projects.
The EBRD has appointed Hildegard Gacek as its Managing Director in the region and head of offices for the four countries and opened permanent offices in Tunis, Amman in 2013 and Egypt in 2014. The opening of a permanent office in Morocco is planned for 2015.
The EBRD’s expertise in managing transition is likely to be just as valuable in the years to come as the financing it can unlock, both its own and that of other investors.
The EBRD’s activities, alongside governments of these countries, will focus on fostering the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through investments in loans and equities, boosting agribusiness, improving banking services, creating local capital markets and supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Assisting SMEs will help spur job creation and stem high unemployment, especially among young people.
In addition to the financing, the EBRD will provide support and expertise through policy dialogue, capacity-building and other forms of technical assistance.
The EBRD’s work reflects the aims of the Deauville Partnership, set up at the G8 summit in France in May 2011, which provides the countries involved with a framework for economic and political progress.