The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is advancing two long-term loans for a total of BEF 4 billion (ECU 98 million (1)) in partnership with the KREDITBANK CERA (KBC) Group: one for an industrial anti-pollution project at the SIDMAR steelworks in Ghent; and the other for modernising the facilities of GLAVERBEL, one of Europe's leading glass manufacturing groups.

These loans break down as follows:

  • BEF 2.5 billion (ECU 61.7 million) for environmental upgrading of SIDMAR's integrated steelworks in Ghent designed to bring the plant into line with the relevant Community directives as well as Flemish legislation (the Vlarem II-bis Act) due to enter into force in 1999. The project consists of 45 schemes to reduce substantially air, water and dust pollution.
  • BEF 1.5 billion (ECU 37 million) will support the continuous modernisation of production facilities at a number of the GLAVERBEL Group's sites located in assisted areas in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. The schemes concerned will enable GLAVERBEL to broaden its range of high value-added products, while reducing production costs through, inter alia, more efficient energy use and the installation of new computerised production management systems. They are also set against the backdrop of an agreement within the glass sector to minimise environmental impact.

As part of its policy of cooperation with the banking sector in the EU Member States, the EIB has established a close relationship with the KBC Group. Over the years, this partnership has enabled the Bank to channel 18 global loans in support of SMEs through a range of KBC subsidiaries.

Since the beginning of the year, the EIB has lent nearly ECU 860 million, including the above two loans, to fund investment schemes in Belgium, broken down by sector as follows:

  • ECU 150 million in the form of global loans for financing small and medium-scale ventures undertaken by SMEs;
  • ECU 475 million to the transport sector, of which some ECU 360 million in funding for priority TENs (Brussels-Antwerp and Brussels-Liège high-speed rail lines) and the remainder for the A8, E25 and E40 motorways;
  • ECU 135 million to safeguard the environment (water management programme in Flanders and modernisation of the SIDMAR steelworks in Ghent);
  • ECU 50 million to the energy sector (gasline from Zeebrugge terminal to the Netherlands and Germany);
  • ECU 50 million to industry (industrial gas production plant at Feluy and modernisation of GLAVERBEL's production facilities).

(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 and BEF 40.48.