The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, announces two loans totalling EUR 205 million (1) (FRF 1.35 billion) for urban renewal works in the Gerland district of Lyons and construction of two tram lines, with the overall aim of regenerating and enhancing the social and economic attraction of major centres in the Greater Lyons area.

The corresponding contractual agreements were signed today in Lyons by Mr Raymond Barre, President of the Communauté urbaine de Lyon (Greater Lyons), Mr Christian Philip, President of SYTRAL and Ms Ariane Obolensky, Vice-President of the EIB.

  • A loan for EUR 152 million has been advanced to SYTRAL (Syndicat Mixte des Transports pour le Rhône et l'agglomération lyonnaise) for building two tram lines with a total length of 18 km linking the north and east of the conurbation to central Lyons. The first of these, running from Perrache to la Doua, will serve the principal administrative centres on the left bank of the Rhône and several university sites, while the second will connect one of the main municipalities in eastern Lyons (the town of Bron) to the city centre. These works form part of Lyons' Urban Mobility Plan, under which, following construction of an efficient metro system, priority is now being attached to development of a non-polluting overground network. The impact on the local economy will be especially significant inasmuch as nearly one quarter of jobs in the conurbation are served by these routes. The EIB also mounted an operation in support of SYTRAL in 1996, lending EUR 107 million (FRF 700 million) for extension of line B of the Lyons metro to the Gerland district (in the south of the city).
  • The second loan, for EUR 53 million, has been made available to Greater Lyons in support of its programme of urban renewal in the Gerland district, comprising creation of a city park, upgrading of the main thoroughfare (Avenue Tony Garnier) and construction of a new Arts and Social Sciences Professional Training College. This programme will serve to foster the district's economic, social and cultural development and improve the local population's quality of life.

These operations form part of the EIB's action to enhance 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 EIB's Amsterdam Special Action Programme (ASAP) to foster growth and employment in Europe.

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 a little over a year, giving rise to the following investment:

  • EUR 8 billion has been committed for 54 projects or programmes in the fields of health, education and urban renewal, including, in France, both 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;
  • more than EUR 600 million has been committed for 25 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 worth EUR 50 million with CDC and SOFARIS under this heading and the EIF has acquired participations amounting to EUR 18 million in five venture capital funds.

(1) 1 euro = 0.666300 GBP, 6.55957 FRF.