The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, announces a loan of ITL 250 billion (EUR 129 million)(1) to the Municipality of Rome for financing schemes to improve the urban environment. The loan agreement was signed today by EIB Vice-President Massimo Ponzellini and the Mayor of Rome Mr Francesco Rutelli.

Projects funded by the EIB will fall within the Municipality's three-year investment programme and encompass town planning schemes, urban transport, the environment, public works and urban regeneration. Particular emphasis will be placed on rehabilitating and safeguarding Rome's artistic and cultural heritage and upgrading transport facilities.

"This latest loan confirms the EIB's commitment to local authorities in Italy, already demonstrated through the opening of similar lines of credit with the Municipalities of Florence, Bologna, Venice and Naples, for a total of EUR 284 million, as well as through schemes financed as part of the Holy Year", commented Massimo Ponzellini during the signature ceremony.

In 1999, the EIB advanced EUR 2 billion in all for urban renewal projects within the European Union.

The EIB was established in 1958 to finance projects geared to achieving the objectives of the European Union, particularly in the spheres of regional development, trans-European transport, telecommunications and energy networks, as well as the environment. In line with the requests of the European Council meetings held in Amsterdam in June 1997 and Cologne in June 1999, the Bank has stepped up its financing in support of urban renewal. Over the past five years (1995-1999), schemes aimed at improving living conditions in towns and cities have attracted EUR 10 billion, with the emphasis on developing urban transport (tram, bus and suburban rail lines, construction of tunnels and building of expressways on the outskirts of towns and cities). In 1999, the EIB provided aggregate financing of EUR 31.8 billion, of which EUR 4.053 billion in Italy.

(1) EUR 1 = ITL 1 936.27; GBP 0.6217.