The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing institution of the European Union (EU), announces a loan for ESP 30.5 billion (ECU 182 million) (1) for funding an urban renewal programme promoted by the Autonomous Community (AC) and almost all the municipalities of the Balearic Islands.

The Special Urban Environment Rehabilitation and Improvement Plan, the "Mirall Plan", is a broad programme of urban renewal encompassing a wide range of infrastructural works: roads, lighting, urban amenities, creation of open spaces, laying of power cables underground, elimination of architectonic barriers, etc. Through its Departments of Tourism and the Environment, the AC has approved around 1 000 schemes defined and submitted by the islands' municipalities. These consist of projects designed to improve the urban environment both for the benefit of the local population and in order to increase the islands' attractiveness to tourists. More than 8 million holiday-makers visit the Balearics each year, forming one of the mainstays of the regional economy.

The consortia established for these schemes by the AC and the municipalities of Palma de Mallorca, Alcudia and Calvià will receive and manage directly - in view of the greater size of their investment - one part of the loan (ECU 80 million), while a syndicate of banks will receive the other (ECU 102 million), for funding the remaining schemes under the Plan.

The EIB was created in 1958 by the founding treaty of the European Economic Community, the Treaty of Rome. It was set up to contribute to the integrated and balanced development of the Member States of the Union, as well as to their economic and social cohesion, by providing long-term finance for capital investment fulfilling EU objectives. The Amsterdam Resolution on Growth and Employment pinpoints urban renewal as a priority area for the European Investment Bank's operations, since it both strengthens the EU's economic and social cohesion and contributes to the creation of stable jobs.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 31:13:1997 when 1 ecu = 0.67 GBP,0.77 IEP,1.10 USD, 167.388 ESP.