The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing institution of the European Union (EU), announces a global loan for EUR 250 million(1) (ESP 41.6 billion) to Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO) for financing investment schemes undertaken by SMEs.

These funds will be mobilised under an ICO/SME credit line, deployed by ICO to finance small and medium-scale ventures, which contribute greatly to regional development, enhancing the competitiveness of European industry and job creation, priority objectives of the European Union. ICO is assisted in managing this line by 90 Spanish financial institutions, including the majority of banks and savings banks operating in the country. It is estimated that some 1 600 SMEs will benefit from this EIB loan.

In 1999, the EIB approved 9 global loans totalling EUR 874 million (ESP 145 billion) for the same number of Spanish financial institutions. These served to finance schemes mounted by SMEs and infrastructural and environmental works carried out by local authorities.

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.Devised by the Bank in 1968, global loans are employed by the EIB to finance small and medium-scale ventures. They are essentially lines of credit opened with banks and other national, regional and local financial intermediaries, which deploy the proceeds in the form of sub-loans targeted in favour of small and medium-scale investment schemes meeting the EIB's eligibility criteria.

(1) EUR 1 = ESP 166.386, GBP 0.621700.