The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is providing ECU 72 million for a motorway bypass around the Slovak capital Bratislava. This is another example of the EIB's growing role in support of Slovak infrastructure development, in particular for improving the Slovak sections of trans-European networks (TENs) for facilitating communications between the EU and Slovakia.

The funds advanced to the Slovak Republic will help finance a 6.5 km stretch of city motorway, including a 1.7 km viaduct, to by-pass the central Bratislava area and to link two existing motorway sections of the Nürnberg-Prague-Bratislava-Budapest corridor. The EIB had previously provided ECU 25 million for an 18 km stretch of this motorway between Bratislava and an intersection on the existing Vienna-Budapest link.

The present loan brings EIB financing in Slovakia to ECU 615 million. Previous EIB loans contributed mainly to the modernisation of the road, gas and telephone networks, for gas storage facilities and the air-traffic control system. Through an EIB global loan (credit line) to the Slovak banking sector a number of smaller industrial and tourism ventures were also financed.

The EIB finances projects in Slovakia 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 a ceiling of ECU 3.5 billion are available for projects in Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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, SKK 37.6918.