The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is lending the Municipality of Bastia FRF 40 million (EUR 6 million )(1) to help fund a series of urban development schemes designed to upgrade the town's economic, social and cultural facilities.

This financing operation comes under Bastia's multiannual urban infrastructure investment programme.

The EIB loan will be earmarked for priority road projects, especially construction of a north-south bypass, secondary urban roads and two public car parks catering for a total of 580 vehicles (underneath the Place d'Armes and near the railway station). These schemes will serve the twin purpose of reducing congestion on the existing north-south trunk road (by opening up access to the port, particularly during the peak tourist season) and easing traffic flows between the different parts of the town.

The EIB is backing this project as part of its action to improve the urban environment, an objective to which it devoted nearly EUR 2.6 billion in 1998 in support of schemes mounted by some twenty European towns and cities. Bank financing for urban renewal and environmental improvement works has expanded markedly due to the increased importance attributed to them under the Amsterdam Special Action Programme (ASAP) to foster growth and employment.

ASAP was set up by the EIB in mid-1997 in response to the Amsterdam European Council's June 1997 Resolution on Growth and Employment in Europe. Planned to last three years, its purpose is to direct a substantial proportion of EIB lending (EUR 10 billion over the period 1997-2000) towards projects in labour-intensive sectors (innovative SMEs, health, education, urban renewal), as well as to bolster the Bank's activity in the fields of environmental protection and trans-European networks.ASAP has now been fully operational Europe-wide for well over a year, giving rise to the following investment:

  • more than EUR 7 billion has been committed for some fifty projects in the fields of health, education and urban renewal, including, in France, funding for school infrastructure on the Island of Réunion and urban development in Lyons and Bastia as well as global loans deployed in cooperation with CLF/Dexia;
  • almost EUR 600 million has been committed for 24 operations designed to strengthen the capital base of innovative SMEs in close liaison with Europe's banking community and the European Investment Fund (EIF). In France, the EIB has mounted two operations under this heading with CDC and SOFARIS.

(1) 1 EUR 1 = FRF 6.55957, GBP 0.705455.