The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, has granted a loan of ESP 11 500 million (ECU 69 million) to International Trade Centre Barcelona S.A., a limited company, for construction of a multi-purpose building on one of the old quays at the port of Barcelona. The finance contract was signed today in Barcelona by EIB Vice-President, Dr Luis Martí Espluga, and the Chairman of the Barcelona Port Authority and International Trade Centre Barcelona S.A., Dr Joaquim Tosas i Mir.

The project promoter, International Trade Centre Barcelona S.A., is a company in which the Barcelona Port Authority holds a majority stake. The building to be constructed with EIB finance will contain 42 000 m2 of offices and special facilities (conference rooms, press centre, etc.) adapted to the requirements of international companies, two 11 000 m2 maritime terminals, and some 5 700 m2 of shops, restaurants and other shared amenities plus parking for 1 600 vehicles. On the basis of these facilities the future Centre has already been admitted as a member of the World Trade Centers Association.

The project forms part of the urban renovation programme for the old port of Barcelona which is transforming this quarter of the city into a commercial and leisure zone. Referring to the project, EIB Vice-President, Luis Martí, observed: "the European Investment Bank is proud to finance a project which should help to improve the competitive standing of a port of such great significance as Barcelona and, at the same time, encourage the development of new activities within the port. This project constitutes the final phase in the city's rehabilitation of the area".

The EIB was created in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, for the purpose of fostering integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion in the Member States, through long-term finance for capital investment contributing to attainment of the European Union's objectives.Protecting the environment and improving the quality of life represent one of the European Union's major priorities and consequently one of the EIB's main remits; during 1996, in the 15 countries of the Union, the Bank provided around ECU 5 875 million for investment aimed at protecting the environment, including water conservation and management projects, waste management facilities, schemes to combat atmospheric pollution and other measures to improve the urban and rural environment. In particular, last year the EIB contributed more than ESP 100 billion (ECU 686 million) towards environmental projects in Spain.

The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30/3/1997, when 1 ECU = 165.605 ESP.