The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted an EUR 135 million (NLG 300 million (1)) global loan (2) to Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG) for financing small and medium-scale public infrastructure projects, including investment schemes in the education and health sectors. This is the first global loan in the Netherlands denominated in euro.

The financing of projects in the "human capital" sectors of education and health is one of the key elements of the Amsterdam Special Action Programme (ASAP), the EIB's contribution to the 1997 Amsterdam European Council Summit's Resolution on Growth and Employment. ASAP also includes a special window providing venture capital facilities to specialized funds for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); new lending for urban renewal and development schemes; and increased financing for trans-European networks and other major infrastructure schemes.

Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten, The Hague, is specialized in financing infrastructure projects promoted by local authorities and investment by housing corporations, utilities, health and social care institutions, universities and schools. BNG has already deployed EIB global loans in the past and this new operation will allow to further intensify the cooperation between the two financial institutions.

During the last five years (1994-1998), the EIB has signed loan agreements in the Netherlands worth more than EUR 2.2 billion, of which over EUR 560 million in the form of global loans for intermediary banks, including BNG.

The EIB, the financing institution of the European Union, supports capital investment projects contributing towards one or more of the following EU objectives: regional development; trans-European transport, telecoms and energy networks; international competitiveness and integration of European industry; investment by SMEs; environmental protection; and security of energy supplies. Outside the EU, the Bank participates in implementing the EU's development policy in accordance with the terms of the various agreements which the Union has concluded with some 130 countries.

(1) EUR 1 EUR = GBP 0.666300; NLG 2.20.

(2) Global loans are credit lines from the EIB to banks and other financial institutions within and outside the European Union, used to finance projects of a modest scale undertaken by small and medium-sized companies or local authorities. The EIB currently has loan agreements of this kind in the EU with over 120 banks, which are all in close contact with and have a thorough knowledge of local businesses and public bodies. Over the past five years, EIB finance under global loan arrangements has amounted to some EUR 12.2 billion for 50 000 SMEs, EUR 9.2 billion for infrastructure schemes promoted by local authorities and, since autumn 1997, EUR 800 million for investment in the education and health sectors.