Brussels, 23 Mar 2005
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has joined the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission in providing funding to Arianespace for the construction of a new launch pad in French Guyana, and for the development of an improved version of the Soyuz launch vehicle. The new facilities will be operational in time for the first Soyuz launch from Kourou in 2008.
The agreement with the EIB was concluded on 21 March in the presence of the Prime Minister of France, Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Vice President of the EIB. The EIB loan will amount to 121 million euro.
'This loan clearly demonstrates the value that Europe can add on at least three levels,' said Mr de Fontaine Vive. 'Firstly, and most obviously, in terms of enhanced progress and competitiveness thanks to an increased applied research effort [at] European centres of excellence such as Arianespace and ESA. [...] Secondly, in terms of greater social cohesion, as a sign of solidarity with the EU's priority regions - in this case Guyana. And thirdly, in terms of a strengthened partnership with Russia on the part of a technologically confident Europe in a bid to share its know-how with this major player.'
The Arianespace-Soyuz programme is included in the EU's list of Quick Start projects, as it is considered a priority for Europe's competitiveness and growth. The programme will, in turn, facilitate the implementation of a number of other priority projects such as Galileo, 'broadband and digital divide', and the GMES (global monitoring for environment and security) project.