Among the loans approved at the Board meeting in Budapest is one of ECU 120 million for improving the efficiency, service and competitiveness of the Hungarian railways. Investments covered by this loan will strengthen core elements of the Hungarian transit links between Western Europe, Romania and the Ukraine.

The EIB was set up in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome to lend to capital investment furthering European Union policy objectives, in particular for regional development, Trans-European Networks (TENs) in transport, telecommunications and energy, the international competitiveness and integration of small, medium-sized and large industrial enterprises, environmental protection and secure energy supplies. While strengthening economically weak regions in the EU still remains its main objective, the Bank also lends in some 120 countries outside the EU, including 11 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The first EIB loan for a project in Central and Eastern Europe was granted in 1990 for an energy project in Hungary. Between 1990 and the end of 1996 the EIB provided loans totalling nearly ECU 900 million for projects in Hungary which accounts for about one fifth of all lending in Central and Eastern Europe: - Modernisation and expansion of the telecommunications network (ECU 230 million),- Electricity generation and distribution improvements (ECU 70 million),- Upgrading of M3 Motorway sections between Budapest and the Ukrainian border (ECU 95 million),- Road improvements, including three new bypasses (ECU 122 million),- Upgrading of air traffic control system (ECU 20 million),- Global loan to Inter-Europa Bank for financing small and medium scale manufacturing and tourism, as well as energy saving and environmental projects (ECU 25 million),- Global loan to the National Bank of Hungary for financing - via local banks - industry, tourism and related services (ECU 80 million),- Global loan to National Savings and Commercial Bank - OTP for financing municipal infrastructure schemes (ECU 40 million),- Global loan for financing smaller scale industry and tourism projects to ABN-AMRO, Commerzbank, Creditanstalt, ING, Inter-Europa, K&H, OTP, Unicbank and WestLB (ECU 190 million). EIB lending was initially geared to projects furthering the transition to a market economy. Presently the emphasis has shifted to priority investment helping prepare Hungary for membership of the European Union.

The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 31/03/1997 , when 1 ECU  = 0.71 GBP, 6.58 FRF , 1.16 USD, 205.359 HUF.