The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing institution of the European Union (EU), announces a loan for EUR 42 million (ESP 7 billion) (1) to Entidad Pública de Saneamiento de Aguas Residuales de la Comunidad Valenciana for funding upgrading of the region's sewage treatment facilities.

The project comprises construction or modernisation of 28 wastewater treatment plants, building of a new marine outfall, rehabilitation of seven existing outfalls and technical upgrading and extension of the sewerage network, including a number of pumping stations. The works form part of the Wastewater Treatment Master Plan adopted by the regional government in 1993, the first phase of which was funded by a previous EIB loan.

An important tourist venue, the Valencia Region has a population of some 4 million, rising to nearly 6 million in the summer months. As a major industrial centre, moreover, it needs state-of-the-art environmental protection systems. The planned investment in wastewater treatment facilitates will contribute to safeguarding the region's environmental resources, improving the quality of life of its inhabitants and enhancing the attraction of its beaches to tourists.

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, as well as to their economic and social cohesion, by providing long-term finance for capital investment fulfilling EU objectives.Safeguarding the environment is one of the EIB's key concerns. As well as financing projects specifically geared to environmental protection, the Bank assesses the potential environmental impact of all schemes which it funds, ensuring that they comply with Community and national environmental legislation. Over the past five years (1994-1998), the EIB has lent more than EUR 30 billion (ESP 5 billion) in support of environmental projects.Owned by the EU Member States, the EIB raises the resources for its lending operations on the capital markets, where its bond issues are consistently rated AAA.

(1) 1 euro: 166.386 ESP, 0.705455 GBP.