The European Investment Bank (EIB) will contribute to the reconstruction effort in the Italian regions of Umbria and Marche, struck by an earthquake in September and October 1997.

The Bank has approved a financial package totalling ITL 700 billion (ECU 364 million) to support emergency earthquake reconstruction works.

A first tranche of this loan, for an amount of ITL 111.7 billion (ECU 57.8 million), is being advanced to the Italian Ministry of Culture for the reconstruction of historical buildings, churches and museums that were damaged by the earthquake.

The EIB was set up in 1958 to finance for capital investment furthering EU policy objectives, in particular: regional development, trans-European networks in transport, telecoms, environment, industry and energy.Owned by Member States, the EIB raises funds on capital markets (AAA bond issuer).In 1997, the EIB provided ECU 26.2 billion for project financing, of which 22.9 within the EU. Italy accounted for ECU 3.517 billion of total lending.

The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 June 1998, when ECU 1 = ITL 1 948.78, 0.657 GBP.