The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is providing ECU 20 million (1) for improving urban infrastructure in Katowice, the capital of Upper Silesia. The loan to the City of Katowice will help finance two road bypasses, a pumping station for the sewage system and a municipal landfill.

Commenting on the loans, EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth said: 'As Katowice is suffering from severe pollution problems, the EIB chose to finance four schemes which should soon produce very beneficial effects for the environment, stemming from the diversion of traffic from the city and from improvements to the sewage system and waste management.'

The present loan brings total EIB financing in Poland to ECU 1 761 million. Previous EIB loans mainly went to finance the modernisation and expansion of the motorway, railway, telecommunications and gas networks, a sewage system and the modernisation of the airport in Warsaw, as well as a re-forestation scheme. A number of small and medium-scale industrial and tourism ventures were also financed through EIB global loans (credit lines) made available to the Polish banking network, including a number of EU banks in Poland. In addition, EIB has just signed on December 1 in Warsaw two loans totalling ECU 300 million to assist Poland in the reconstruction effort, following the July floods.

The EIB finances projects in Poland under mandates by its Board of Governors, i.e. the fifteen EU Ministers of Finance representing the Bank's shareholders. For the period 1997-99, loans up to ECU 3.5 billion are available for projects in Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. In addition, the EIB will shortly launch a substantial 'Pre-Accession Facility' to help the countries in the region prepare for 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.