The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term credit institution, is lending ECU 100 million (1) for a 31 km urban expressway linking directly the cities of Katowice and Gliwice in Upper Silesia. The 20 year loan to the Republic of Poland is for building the first 13 km from Katowice to Swietochlowice. In total, the EIB has earmarked lending up to ECU 180 million for this first phase of the project.

The new expressway will help improve the environment and living conditions in this heavily polluted area of Upper Silesia. It will also facilitate economic restructuring and economic development by improving urban and regional transport. The project is thus in line with the priorities and medium term objectives set out in the Accession Partnership Agreement between the EU and Poland.

The loan for the new Katowice-Gliwice link brings total EIB lending in Poland since 1990 to ECU 2.3 billion. Previous EIB financing mainly went to the modernisation and expansion of the gas, telecommunications, railway and motorway networks, to municipal infrastructure investment in Katowice and Krakow, to a country-wide reforestation scheme, and to a new diesel engine plant in Silesia. The EIB is also assisting the development of small and medium-size enterprises through its global loans (credit lines) to a number of Polish and EU banks in Poland. Finally, the EIB is helping to repair various infrastructure damaged during the 1997 floods in southern Poland.

Since it started lending in Central and Eastern Europe in 1990, the EIB has provided nearly 8.3 billion ECU for projects in the region, and more specifically in Poland (2.3 billion), the Czech Republic (1.8 billion), Hungary (1.2 billion), Romania (1 052 million), Slovakia (665 million), Bulgaria (446 million), Slovenia (325 million), Lithuania (148 million), Estonia (88 million), Albania (68 million), FYR of Macedonia (70 million) and Latvia (61 million).

(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 = GBP 0.69 , IEP 0.79 , USD 1.17159 , PLN 4.19135.