France: CEB approves a €100 million loan to support sustainable mobility solutions for Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence

1 October 2019

PARIS – The Administrative Council of the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) has approved a €100 million loan to Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence for the modernisation of the Marseille metro network as part of the region’s Mobility Agenda. The loan will help the Métropole to increase the use of local transport by an estimated 50% throughout the metropolitan area by 2025 and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Northern suburbs of Marseille (© Gilles_Paire)
Northern suburbs of Marseille (© Gilles_Paire)

Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence is a public inter-municipal cooperation mechanism set up by 92 municipalities in 2016. With close to 2 million inhabitants, Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence is the most congested metropolitan area in Europe. This follows on the backlog of investment in public transport infrastructure over the past few years and on the fragmented local labour market, which has led to heavy commuting. 

Some 70% of the region’s 740 000 jobs are located in five municipalities (Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Aubagne, Marignane, and Vitrolles), which often means having twice as many jobs as working residents in some areas. About 270 000 people living in the region commute every day, while some 60 000 people living outside the region travel there on a daily basis to earn their livelihoods. 

In addition, the large majority of commuters rely on their private vehicles to get to and from work. Only 10% of the region’s working population who live and work in different municipalities use public transport, while more than 410 000 people who reside in the same municipality where they work still tend to use their private vehicles for their daily travel. 

CEB financing will help the Métropole address some of these mobility issues by significantly upgrading the Marseille metro network. Opened in 1977, the Marseille metro comprises two lines, partly underground, serving 28 stations and transporting about 80 million people annually. The metro currently operates 36 trains which date back to 1977 or 1984. All infrastructure and rolling stock will be renewed so as to reach full automation and improve passenger access and safety. Also known as ‘Neomma’, or Nouveau Métro de Marseille, the project is planned to be implemented over the 2019 to 2027 period. 

CEB Governor Rolf Wenzel said: “Modernising the Marseille metro network is a vital investment in improved mobility throughout Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence. It will decrease the region’s carbon footprint while improving access to employment hubs, municipal and leisure facilities, particularly in the case of some areas that are currently socially vulnerable. The CEB has significant experience in funding projects aimed at providing sustainable mobility solutions in its member states and is pleased to be able to bring this knowledge and the financing needed for the benefit of Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence.” 

France is a founding member of the CEB. Since 1956, the Bank has been instrumental in providing financing for a wide range of social investments, from public infrastructure improvements and state-of-the-art research facilities to support for MSMEs.

Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 41 member states. Twenty-two Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook positive, AAA with Standard & Poor's, outlook stable and Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.