Caisse Nationale des Caisses d'Épargne (CNCE) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, have signed a EUR 150 million (FRF 984 million)(1) loan intended to fund small-scale public amenities. Schemes financed will focus on promoting social welfare (health, education, social initiatives), transport and urban development as well as environmental protection (waste processing and water management).

The contract concluded between the EIB and CNCE will enable the Caisse d'Épargne Group to finance local authorities on the keenest financial terms, reflecting the market rates applicable to resources provided by the EIB. It follows an initial loan of EUR 100 million (FRF 656 million) made available by the EIB to CNCE in November 2000 and already deployed in full.

This operation forms part of the EIB's action to further investment by local authorities, which have a significant role to play in sustaining economic activity and improving the quality of life in urban areas. Over the past five years, the EIB has devoted almost EUR 11 billion (FRF 72.16 billion) to this goal, especially in France, where it has been involved in financing some 20 major projects and - each year - over 1 000 medium-scale infrastructure schemes.

In 2000, the Caisse d'Épargne Group increased its market share in the local authorities sector by providing EUR 4.57 billion (FRF 30 billion) in new loans, thus covering over one third of the latter's external financing requirements.

(1) 1 EUR = 6.55957 FRF , 0.6304 GBP.