The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is lending a total of EUR 15 million to the Republic of Estonia to develop roads infrastructure.

The EIB loan will be used for the rehabilitation of some 120 km of selected sections of Via Baltica, a crucial trans-European network (TEN) corridor crossing the three Baltic countries to link Helsinki and Warsaw, as well as for the reinforcement of about 115 km of selected sections of the Tallinn-Narva road. In addition, part of the loan will help finance the Pärnu bypass on Via Baltica and the Kurkuse-Johvi bypass on the Tallinn- Narva road.

Another loan of EUR 12 million, to be used for water, waste-water, solid waste, urban renovation, municipal transport schemes as well as other environment-friendly measures, is expected to be signed after the relevant discussion in the Estonian Parliament is completed. Such schemes will be implemented mainly by local and regional authorities and concern some 65 towns and small municipalities throughout Estonia.

Commenting on the loans, EIB President Sir Brian Unwin said: 'Good road connections are important for the country's further development and prosperity. The upgrading of Via Baltica and of the Tallinn-Narva Road will help to bring closer together the States around the Baltic Sea. The Baltic region shares a long and dynamic history and a strong potential for further development.' EIB Vice President Wolfgang Roth added 'The EU-Estonia Association Council which met at Ministerial level in Luxembourg last month welcomed again the EIB's financial contribution to the development of the Estonian economy. Since 1993 EIB lending has reached EUR 115 million. While the upgrading of Via Baltica and the Tallinn-Narva Road will lead to safer links between a dozen major cities in the Baltics and their hinterland. At the same time, the rehabilitation of municipal infrastructure, particularly in the environmental sector, is urgently needed. Suitable external financing is indispensable to support the country's efforts to move towards EU membership and the EIB is the most important provider of such funds in the Central and Eastern European countries'

EIB Board of Directors visits Tallinn

The EIB's Board of Directors is on a three-day visit to Finland and Estonia. The members of the Board visited the Tallinn International Airport which is being modernised with the support of the Bank. The EIB Delegation also met with Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, and other Government Officials as well as the banking and business community. This is the first visit of the EIB's Board to a Baltic Country.

The EIB was set up in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome to lend to capital investment furthering European Union policy objectives, in particular for regional development, Trans-European Networks (TENs) in transport, telecommunications and energy, the international competitiveness and integration of small, medium-sized and large industrial enterprises, environmental protection and steady energy supplies. While strengthening economically weak regions in the EU still remains its main objective, the Bank also lends in some 120 countries outside the EU, including ten countries in Central and Eastern Europe which have applied for EU membership.

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