The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing institution of the European Union (EU), has advanced a global loan for ESP 10 billion (ECU 60 million) (1) to Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona - La Caixa for funding small and medium-scale investment schemes. This is the third global loan received by La Caixa, which intends to use it mainly to finance municipal infrastructure, industrial regeneration and environmental projects throughout Spain.

This is a multipurpose loan geared to financing schemes meeting one of the following EU objectives: increased productivity and competitiveness of SMEs; more efficient use of energy and development or diversification of energy sources; environmental protection and reduction of pollution; investment in small and medium-scale infrastructure; and promotion of health, education and urban renewal schemes.

Health, education and urban renewal, which also qualify for financing under this global loan, were pinpointed by the Amsterdam Resolution on Growth and Employment as priority sectors for the EIB, which both strengthen the EU's economic and social fabric and contribute to the creation of stable jobs.

The EIB was created in 1958 by the founding treaty of the European Economic Community, the Treaty of Rome. It was set up to contribute to the integrated and balanced development of the Member States of the Union, as well as to their economic and social cohesion, by providing long-term finance for capital investment fulfilling EU objectives. Global loans are essentially lines of credit opened with banks and other national, regional and local financial intermediaries, which deploy the proceeds in the form of sub-loans targeted in favour of small and medium-scale investment schemes meeting the EIB's eligibility criteria.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1998, when ECU 1 = 166.728 ESP, 0.69 GBP, 0.79 IEP, 1.17159 USD.