European Investment Bank President, Sir Brian Unwin, and Vice-President, Wolfgang Roth, while on an official visit to Berlin, are holding talks today with representatives of Germany's Senate, industrial sector and banking community.
The visit is intended to emphasise the Bank's commitment to Berlin, as also to the eastern Länder.
To show solidarity with the people affected by the floods along the Oder, the President of the Bank will be handing over a donation of DEM 500 000 today to Dr Simon, Finance Minister of the Land of Brandenburg, following up similar gestures to Poland and the Czech Republic. The donation will serve to rebuild the quay side at the city bridge in Frankfurt an der Oder.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has expanded its operations considerably in Germany in recent years. This Member State has become the second largest loan beneficiary of the Bank, accounting for 14% of its annual financing operations within the European Union (EU). Major candidates for such funding are the new Federal Länder which, as Objective 1 areas for European regional aid, are also key target areas for Bank regional development support. In 1996, the Bank advanced loans totalling DEM 6 billion in Germany, over half of which went to the eastern Länder. Since 1990, these Länder have attracted EIB finance totalling around DEM 14 billion for projects representing aggregate capital investment of some DEM 40 billion. In cofinancing these projects, the Bank has helped both to create and safeguard employment. The main thrust of EIB assistance has been on modernising the energy and water sectors, as well as strengthening the competitiveness of, and establishing new, industrial and service businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises.
The European Investment Bank has also been very active since 1990 in the Central and Eastern European countries, where it has taken on a key role in the financing of major infrastructure projects. The Bank is placing special emphasis on cross-frontier transport, energy transmission and telecommunications infrastructure, linking the economies of Central and Eastern Europe more closely both to each other and to the EU, thereby promoting European integration. Berlin is the natural hub of many of these new or more efficient East-West links which will enhance the city's development potential in the long term.
The Bank has so far provided loans totalling DEM 10 billion or so in Central and Eastern Europe. At the instigation of the European Council, it is currently setting up a special facility which will enable it to expand its lending in Central and Eastern Europe substantially and hence to support these countries' preparations for membership of the European Union.
The European Investment Bank was established in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome. Its shareholders are the Member States of the European Union. The Bank's mission is to promote the objectives of the Union through the long-term financing of economically viable investment projects. These objectives encompass: balanced development of the Union through assistance for the economically more disadvantaged regions; expansion of infrastructure, particularly trans-European transport, energy and telecommunications networks serving to open up the European internal market; efficient use of energy and security of energy supply; environmental protection and improvement of the quality of urban life; strengthening the competitiveness of enterprises, irrespective of size. Last year, with aggregate outstandings of ECU 127 billion (about DEM 252 billion) and new annual lending of ECU 23 billion, the EIB ranked as the world's leading multilateral financing institution. The Bank taps its borrowing requirements from the capital markets and is among the world's largest bond issuers. EIB paper enjoys triple-A status.