The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing arm of the European Union (EU), announces a EUR 30 million global loan to Institut Catalá de Finances (ICF) for financing small and medium-scale audiovisual and innovative technological ventures undertaken by private enterprises in Catalonia.

This global loan falls within the scope of the EIB's Innovation 2000 Initiative (i2i) aimed at promoting a European economy based on knowledge and innovation. The i2i programme focuses on human capital formation, research and development, extension of information and communications technology networks and development of entrepreneurship.

This is the Bank's sixth global loan to Institut Catalá de Finances for enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of SMEs, but the first to be earmarked specifically for supporting projects in the audiovisual sector. The EIB funds will essentially be used to finance investments involving the production, distribution and screening of films and television programmes, promotion of innovative technology and building of technology parks.

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.

Its global loans are lines of credit opened with banks and other national, regional and local financial intermediaries, which onlend the proceeds in the form of sub-loans targeting small and medium-scale investment schemes meeting the Bank's eligibility criteria.

In 2001, EIB lending in Spain totalled EUR 4 559 million.