On the occasion of the awards ceremony held today in the European University Institute of Fiesole, the European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term financing institution, officially announced the winners of the EIB Prize 1997.

During yesterday's official dinner hosted by the Bank, the Prefect of Florence, Dr Francesco Lococciolo, representing Prime Minister Romano Prodi, congratulated EIB President Sir Brian Unwin and EIB Vice-President Massimo Ponzellini on the Bank's active support for European integration and on having chosen to celebrate this highly significant event in Italy, all the more so in Florence, renowned centre of European cultural excellence.

The first prize was awarded to Bernadette Frédérick and Peter Vanden Houte, two Belgian economists, for their research into exchange rate parities on the dawn of the Euro.

Offered every two years, the prestigious EIB Prize was first awarded in 1983 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Bank's foundation. Its purpose is to reward financial and economic research targeted, in the context of the 1997 Prize in particular, at current debates on the future shape of the European Union.

The prize jury is currently composed of Lord Roll of Ipsden (Chairman),  Antonio Borges (Dean of INSEAD), Edmond Malinvaud (Collège de France), Alberto Quadrio-Curzio (Catholic University of Milan), Helmut Schlesinger (former President of the Bundesbank),  Jacques François Thisse (Catholic University of Louvain) and Alfred Steinherr (EIB Chief Economist).