The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is lending ECU 230 million(1) for the construction of sections of motorway in the Czech Republic. The loan will be advanced to the Konsolidac'ni Banka (KOB), a public financial institution. The Roads and Motorways Directorate, an agency of the Ministry of Transport, will be responsible for implementing and monitoring project work.

The project concerns the building of six sections of four-lane motorway and expressway mainly serving Prague, with a total length of 100 km. The capacity of the completed sections will be around 40 000 to 45 000 vehicles per day.

The loan will bring total amount of funds lent to the Czech Republic up to some ECU 1 760 million.

This financing is an additional example of EIB's commitment to the development of Trans European Networks (TENs) in Central and Eastern Europe. The establishment of effective trans-European transport, telecommunications and energy networks has always ranked among the EIB's top priorities. By supporting their development, the Bank is contributing to the preparation process of countries of the region to European Union membership.

Over the past five years, the EIB has advanced some ECU 42 billion in loans for establishing key trans-European networks within the European Union, and extending them into the Union's Central and Eastern European neighbours.

The EIB has lent 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 January 31, 2000, the Bank will advance a further ECU 5 billion in these regions. Previous EIB loans to the Czech Republic mainly went to finance the modernisation and expansion of the telecommunications, railway and motor way networks and improvements to power stations.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 31 March 1998, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.64, CZK 36.3339.