The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, has granted a EUR 175 million loan to Autovía del Camino S.A. (a special purpose vehicle formed by FCC, Corporación Caja Navarra and NEC) for building a new motorway linking the city of Pamplona (Navarra) with the Rioja region.

Promoted by the Government of Navarra, this project constitutes one of the strategic priorities of its 1998-2005 Roads Master Plan. Autovía del Camino S.A. won the concession to build, maintain and operate this shadow toll motorway for up to 30 years in July 2002.

Specifically, this EIB loan will serve to finance the construction of 62 km of two-lane motorway between the two regional capitals, along with the upgrading of a number of sections of the regional road network in order to improve access to the new motorway from neighbouring areas.

The project will enhance passenger and freight flows between the two cities and increase road safety, thereby fostering trade relations between Navarra and adjacent regions and helping to promote the area's economic development in general.

The EIB was founded in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community, with the aim of fostering enhanced integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion in the Member States by providing long-term financing for capital investment furthering EU objectives.

Specifically, the EIB supports viable projects promoting: development of the Union's less favoured regions; construction of trans-European transport, telecoms and energy networks; the international competitiveness and integration of Europe's industry, especially SMEs; environmental protection and improvement; security of the Union's energy supply; and health and education. Within certain limits, the EIB also provides financing outside the Union in support of the EU's policy of cooperation with third countries. Owned by the EU Member States, the EIB funds its lending operations through borrowings raised on the capital markets, where its bond issues systematically enjoy the top AAA rating.

In 2001, the EIB signed loans in Spain totalling EUR 4 559 million, including some EUR 2 700 million for infrastructure, energy and communications projects.