The European Investment Bank, the European Union's financing arm, is providing a global loan of ECU 35 million (1) to Vereinsbank Polska S.A. for financing small and medium-scale infrastructure, industry, tourism, environmental and energy projects. Vereinsbank is now one of nine banks in Poland with access to EIB global loan funds (credit lines) for financing smaller-scale ventures. In Poland as in other Central an Eastern European countries, the EIB finances large-scale investments with direct loans and smaller projects indirectly through global loans to selected intermediary banks which on-lend to small and medium-size companies and to promoters of smaller infrastructures schemes.

The global loan to Vereinsbank Polska brings total EIB lending in Poland since 1990 to nearly ECU 1.5 billion. Previous EIB financing has been made available for infrastructure related investments in the transport, energy, telecommunications and environment related sectors as well as for small and medium size enterprises through existing credit lines with domestic and foreign banks.

Commenting on the loan, EIB Vice President Wolfgang Roth said: 'The development of a competitive private sector as well as a solid base of good and efficient infrastructure are vital for the growth of the Polish economy. The EIB seeks to promote economic growth and employment and to support small and medium size initiatives by making funds available to solid financial intermediaries.'

The loan agreement was signed in Stockholm during the 1997 EIB FORUM, on 'Bridging the Seas in Northern Europe' attended by some 300 personalities from the region, representing business, finance, politics, academia and the media.

The EIB has advanced some ECU 5.5 billion for investment projects in 11 central and Eastern European countries since 1990. Under a mandate covering the years 1997 to 2000, the Bank is to lend ECU 3.5 billion in this region. In addition to this, the EIB at the request of the Council of Ministers, will also create a substantial pre-accession lending facility to support preparation of EU membership.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1997, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.69, IEP 0.76, USD 1.113, PLN 3.82762.