The European Investment Bank (EIB) is making available ECU 288 million for the European aerospace industry in France, in the form of loans for ECU 37.8 million (FRF 250 million)(1) to SNECMA for manufacturing the propulsion system for the Ariane 5 European satellite launcher and ECU 250 million (FRF 1 656 million) to EUTELSAT (the European Telecommunications Satellite Organisation) for acquisition and launch into geostationary orbit of four new third-generation "EUTELSAT III" satellites. These complementary projects will contribute to the objectives of promoting European integration and enhancing the competitiveness of European industry.

  • The project financed under the Ariane 5 programme concerns development and assembly of the liquid fuel "Vulcain" engine for the main cryotechnical stage, as well as of the solid fuel engines. Ariane 5 has been designed both to launch heavier satellites than those placed in orbit by Ariane 4 and to reduce the cost of launches significantly. The various components of the project are located in Vernon (Eure), for the Vulcain engine, and in Bordeaux (Gironde), for the solid fuel engines.
  • The EUTELSAT project focuses on acquisition and launch into geostationary orbit of four satellites (Hot Bird 5, W1, W2 and W3) offering a broad range of telecommunications facilities encompassing telephony, EUTELTRACS mobile, business user, multimedia and Internet services, as well as broadcasting of digital and analogue television plus radio programmes. These third generation geostationary satellites, to be positioned 36 000 km above the Equator, offer greater capacity, higher power, wider coverage and a longer life than the older second generation units that they will replace.

This latest operation brings EIB support for EUTELSAT to a total of ECU 1 billion, with loans granted in 1986, 1991, 1995 and, now, 1998 towards financing 13 second and third generation satellites.

The EIB has, in fact, invested some ECU 660 million in the launch and operation of satellites and the establishment and running of ground control stations involving a number of European countries. These include the EUTELSAT, INMARSAT, Hispasat (Spain), Telespazio, Telecom Italia (Italy), Kopernikus (Germany) and Astra (Luxembourg) projects.

EIB lending to French industry in 1997 totalled almost FRF 6 billion. Six major industrial projects in the motor vehicle, chemicals and aeronautical engineering sectors attracted loans amounting to FRF 3.2 billion, whilst some 7 400 small and medium-sized enterprises were financed by global loan allocations totalling over FRF 2.7 billion deployed in cooperation with the EIB's intermediary banks in France.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 31 December 1997 when: ECU 1 = FRF 6.61.