The European Investment Bank (EIB) has established a loan facility of SEK 500 million (EUR 56 million) to finance the modernisation and extension of compulsory and higher secondary schools in Malmö in southern Sweden. The first loan tranche for SEK 132.5 million (approx. EUR 15 million) has been signed.

"This is our first direct financing of educational investments in Sweden in accordance with the Bank's so-called Amsterdam Special Action Programme. It demonstrates that the Bank has a strong commitment to improving and expanding vital social infrastructure and to supporting development in the growing Örestad (Malmö-Copenhagen) region", says Claes de Neergaard, EIB Vice President.

Malmö is implementing an education programme within a General Plan for Work and Employment. This is based on the growth expectations following the completion of the Öresund link and projected demographic trends driven both by immigration and relocation from neighbouring areas. The school population is foreseen to increase by some 15% over the next 10 years.

The investments, totalling SEK 1.2 billion, within the education sector concern some thirty schools throughout the municipality encompassing the construction of new buildings as well as modernisation of existing schools. The works are expected to be completed by 2002.

The EIB, the European Union's financing institution, has previously extended a loan totalling SEK 380 million to the City of Malmö for financing of improvements to water supply, sewerage and road infrastructure as well as SEK 255 million to Sydvatten AB for the upgrading and extension of the drinking water supply system in the Malmö area. Some EUR 800 million in EIB loans have been signed for the construction of the Öresund link between Malmö and Copenhagen.

The Amsterdam Special Action Programme is the EIB's response to the 1997 Amsterdam EU Summit's resolution on Growth and Employment and includes risk capital facilities for innovative SMEs and lending to the "human capital" sectors of education, health and urban renewal.