The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, announces a EUR 150 million loan to the Communauté Urbaine de Lyon to upgrade the drinking water supply and sewage treatment systems of Greater Lyon.

Mr Gérard Collomb, Senator, Mayor and Chairman of the Communauté Urbaine de Lyon, and Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President, signed a finance contract in Lyon today for a EUR 50 million loan to the Communauté Urbaine de Lyon, completing the EIB's total commitment of EUR 150 million. This loan will primarily be devoted to renovation of the Pierre Bénite sewage treatment plant, which represents France's largest sanitation project (outside the Paris conurbation) for the years ahead. The project also comprises the construction of a new plant in Jonage, modernisation of the sewerage system, the protection of drinking water resources and the first phase of the water mains replacement programme.

At the signing of the finance contracts, Philippe de Fontaine Vive expressed satisfaction at the support provided by the EIB for this major water and sanitation investment programme. He stressed that one of the EIB's key objectives since the 1980s had been to foster enhanced environmental management, so that it was important for the European Union's financing arm to underpin local authorities' structural schemes, which bring tangible improvements to the quality of life of all citizens. He also emphasised the long-term nature of the partnership between the EIB and Greater Lyon, pointing out that over the last 20 years the EIB had advanced loans worth over half a billion euros for Greater Lyon's projects, chiefly in the environmental, roads and urban renovation sectors.

With the addition of loans in support of the health sector (Hospices Civils de Lyon), public transport (metro and tramway, with Sytral) and corporates, the EIB has provided total finance of over EUR 4.5 billion to partners in the Rhône-Alpes region.

These loans are in keeping with the objective of safeguarding and improving the environment, to which the EIB - the EU's financing institution - devotes one third of its funding in the EU-25, equating to more than EUR 47 billion over the past five years, of which EUR 3.7 billion for projects in France.

To improve the quality of life in urban areas, the EIB has provided finance totalling some EUR 38 billion in the EU since 2000, of which EUR 3.4 billion in France, for urban public transport projects (metro, tramway), urban renewal and social housing programmes and health and education schemes. It has also financed projects aimed at improving the quality of air and water (water and sanitation networks) and solid waste management to the tune of EUR 7.7 billion. In France, the EIB has supported water management and/or waste treatment projects in the cities of Belfort, Cergy-Pontoise, Chartres, Nantes, Nancy, St Germain-en-Laye, Lille, Melun and Lyon with loans amounting to some EUR 530 million over 10 years.