The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is providing ECU 10 million (1) for upgrading and extending the passenger terminal at Tallinn International Airport. The loan to Tallinn Airport Ltd will help finance investments to bring services up to international standards. The refurbishment of the existing apron is also part of the investments and will improve the aircraft parking capacity. After completion of the works, the airport will have a capacity of 1.4 million passengers per year.

The loan agreement was signed today in Stockholm during the 1997 EIB FORUM, on 'Bridging the Seas in Northern Europe' attended by some 300 personalities from the region, representing business, finance, politics, academia and the media. Commenting on the loans, EIB Vice President Wolfgang Roth said: 'The redirection of traffic flows following independence of the Baltic States, requires urgent improvements to the countries' air traffic infrastructure to facilitate communication with the their new trading partners in the EU. Not surprisingly, therefore, this is already the EIB's second air traffic infrastructure financing in Estonia following a loan of ECU 20 million granted in 1994 for upgrading the country's air traffic control system.'

The loans bring total EIB lending in Estonia since 1992 to ECU 78 million. Previous EIB loans went to finance the district heating system of Pärnu and Tallinn, a bulk terminal at the Muuga deep sea port, the air traffic control system and the upgrading of the Tallinn-Narva railway. A first global loan for financing small and medium-scale manufacturing and tourism ventures was also granted to Estonian Investment Bank.

The EIB was established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome and is the European Union's long-term financing institution. In 1996, the Bank provided loans totalling ECU 23.2 billion. Nearly 5 per cent of this was for projects in eleven Central and Eastern European countries: Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Between 1990 and the end of 1996, the EIB lent some ECU 5 billion to projects in these countries. Under a new mandate for the years 1997-2000 another ECU 3.52 billion will be lent in the region. In addition, the EIB will also create, at the request of the Council of Ministers, a substantialpre-accession lending facilityto help Central and Eastern European countries prepare for EU-membership.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1997, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.69, IEP 0.76, USD 1.113, EEK 15.7241.