The European Investment Bank (EIB) is advancing a framework loan of up to DEM 500 million to Hamburger Stadtentwässerung, Hamburg's public sewerage utility, to rehabilitate and extend the wastewater and stormwater sewer network.

The finance contract was signed in Luxembourg on 27 October 1998 by EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth and the chief executives of Hamburger Stadtentwässerung, Rainer Funke and Wolfgang Werner.

The investment scheme encompasses a whole raft of individual projects to modernise and rehabilitate the ageing sewer system. State-of-the-art renovation technology is being employed to carry out the essential works as rapidly as possible. The resulting rehabilitation will help to reduce the threat of environmental damage, caused either by ruptured wastewater sewers or subsidence of buildings in the old centre of Hamburg.

It has long been part of the EIB's remit to finance investment serving to enhance the quality of urban life, particularly in the field of environmental protection. This loan for a major wastewater project also ties in with the aims of the Bank's Amsterdam Special Action Programme, viz. to promote growth and employment in Europe by financing labour-intensive infrastructural schemes.

The European Investment Bank, set up in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, is the European Union's financing institution. The EU Member States are the Bank's shareholders. The EIB's objective is to advance European integration through long-term finance for economically viable capital investment. The Bank funds projects designed to foster regional development, especially those improving transport and telecommunications infrastructure, ensuring secure energy supplies and rational use of energy, protecting the environment and enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises. The Amsterdam Special Action Programme, launched a year ago, enables the EIB to extend its support also to health and education infrastructure.

The European Investment Bank raises the bulk of its resources on the international capital markets. By virtue of its AAA rating, it can mobilise funds on the finest terms and conditions available. As the EIB is a non-profit-making organisation, its own borrowers benefit directly from these favourable funding costs. In 1997, the Bank granted loans totalling the equivalent of some DEM 52 billion, whilst tapping DEM 46 billion on the capital markets, thus making the EIB the largest non-sovereign issuer in Europe.

The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1998, when ECU 1 = DEM 1.96, GBP 0.79, IEP, USD 1.17.