The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing institution of the European Union, has concluded a framework agreement with the Republic of Nicaragua under which the EIB may start financing capital investment in that country in furtherance of the EU's cooperation policy towards non-member states. The agreement was signed by EIB Vice-President with special responsibility for the Bank's activities in Latin America, Mr Luis Martí, and Nicaraguan Foreign Minister, Mr Eduardo Montealegre.

The EIB finances projects in countries which have concluded cooperation agreements with the European Union. In Latin America, the Bank has so far signed framework agreements with Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. At the request of the European Council, the EIB's Board of Governors authorised lending of up to EUR 750 million(1) for a period of three years (1993-1996) for projects of mutual interest located in thirty Asian and Latin American (ALA) countries. This mandate has been successively renewed: EUR 275m (1997), EUR 900m (1997-1999). The amount available for the period 2000-2006 will be EUR 2 480m.

Financing provided to date has targeted projects in the areas of power generation (Costa Rica, EUR 44m), natural gas distribution (Argentina, EUR 46m; Brazil, EUR 55m; Mexico, EUR 26.6m), telecommunications (Brazil, EUR 57.7m; Chile, EUR 75m; Panama, EUR 50m; Peru, EUR 50m), road transport (Argentina, EUR 45m; Peru, EUR 27m), environmental protection (Argentina, EUR 113m; Paraguay, EUR 17m; Uruguay, EUR 10m) and industry (Brazil, EUR 161.5m; Mexico, EUR 50m). The EIB has also made available credit lines to the Andean Pact (EUR 40m) and CABEI (EUR 35m) for financing small and medium-scale ventures.

The EIB was set up in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome with a remit to facilitate the long-term financing of capital investment furthering attainment of EU objectives in the fields of regional development, infrastructure, energy, industry and the environment.Outside the Union, the EIB contributes to the EU's development aid and cooperation policy in accordance with the various agreements concluded between the Union and some 130 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, Asia and Latin America.

(1) As at 29 February 2000: 1 EUR = 0.621700 GBP; 1.00460 USD; 14.01404 NIO.