The European Investment Bank (EIB) announces a loan of EUR 640 million (FRF 4.2 billion to Caisse Nationale des Autoroutes (CNA) in support of projects being undertaken by the semi-public motorway concession-holders (SEMCAs) to improve traffic conditions and safety on the French motorway network.

These schemes form part of the French public motorway companies' 1999-2001 programme of additional investment for motorways already in use, the level of which is considerably up on previous years. They are designed primarily to enhance traffic conditions and the quality of services provided to motorway users throughout virtually the entire network, notably by constructing extra lanes and increasing the capacity of the main toll areas. They will also help to improve road safety by the installation of new hard shoulders, installation of more road signs, construction of new rest and service areas as well as modified or new lighting, emergency telephone and other systems. Finally, construction of new junctions will allow better network access in certain regions and thus contribute to their economic development.

The Bank has also granted two loans of EUR 50 million each to CNA for financing initial works by Autoroutes du Sud de la France (ASF) on the Toulouse-Pamiers section of the A66 in Southern France and the Oulmes-Niort section of the A83 in Western France. Moreover, it has provided two further loans, one for EUR 60 million for additional works on the A29 motorway by Société des Autoroutes du Nord et de l'Est de la France (SANEF) and the other for EUR 15 million for investment in the A20 by ASF.

The EIB, the European Union's financing institution, contributes to development of European communications networks and implementation of schemes supporting regional development. During the past five years, the Bank has advanced almost EUR 25 billion for road and rail infrastructure networks, two thirds of which are located in assisted areas. This has had a significant impact in France, in particular, where almost EUR 5 billion have been invested in developing motorway and high-speed rail networks.

(1) 1 EUR: 6.5957 FRF, 0.647500 GBP.