The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is providing a total of EUR 140 million (GRD 48 billion) (1) in support of transeuropean priority road networks in Greece. The respective financing agreements have been signed today in Athens, by the Deputy Minister of National Economy Mr Ch.Pachtas acting on behalf of the Hellenic Republic and by Mr M.Ponzellini, Vice-President on behalf of the EIB.

EUR 100 million (GRD 34 billion) in long-term loans is for the for the construction of 107 km of the central part of the EGNATIA axis, along the section Grevena - Kouloura in Macedonia and Thrace regions of Northern Greece.

Egnatia is the major West-East link between Italy (port of Brindisi), Western Greece (port of Igoumenitsa), the Balkan countries and Turkey (Alexandroupolis-Kipi border crossing). Being of vital importance for the development and the opening-up of international communications in the region and Greece as a whole, the project is included in the Trans-European Network (TEN) priority investments list, as a major trunckroute. It is therefore supported jointly by the Union Structural funds (ERDF and the Cohesion Fund) and the EIB. Total EIB financing for the project amounts to EUR 740 million (GRD 252 billion).

EUR 40 million (GRD 14 billion) goes for the construction of a toll motorway 8 km in length, to deviate a mountainous and rocky area along the Athens - Korinthos section (Attica region) of the Athens-Thessaloniki-Evzoni (PATHE) motorway.

Being the main North-South road axis in Greece, as well as the main link with Italy (port of Patras) and the Balkan countries (Evzoni border crossing to FYROM), the project is supported jointly by the Community Support Frameworks (CSF) 2 & 3 and the EIB, and is included in the priority list of Trans-European Network projects (TENs). Total EIB financing for the project amounts to EUR 564 million (GRD 192 billion).

Mr M. Ponzellini, EIB Vice-President supervising interalia activities in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta, during his visit in Greece will be a speaker on "The New Economy and the role of the EIB" at the "Athens Summit 2001", at Pnyka on Saturday 19th May 2001.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) was set up in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome to provide loan finance for capital investment furthering European Union objectives. It participates in the implementation of EU policies towards third countries that have co-operation or association agreements with the Union.

In 2000, the EIB provided loans totalling some EUR 36 billion, of which EUR 1 712 million (GRD 583 billion) for projects in Greece. In 2001 and until todate, the total EIB lending to Greece on priority motorways amounts to EUR 159 million (GRD 54 billion).

The Bank borrows the funds for its lending on the capital markets. Its bonds have regularly been rated "AAA" by the leading rating agencies. As the EIB works on a non-profit basis it can pass on to project promoters the excellent conditions it obtains on the markets. The EIB normally finances up to 50 percent of project cost; on average it provides one third of the funding and co-finances investments with other institutions.

(1) 1 EUR = 0.924800 USD, 0.638700 GBP