The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term financing institution is lending EUR 34 million (1) for the rehabilitation and upgrading of roads on Albania's main North-South transport corridor. The project involves the modernisation of two road sections on the main transport links between Albania and Greece and Yugoslavia: 62 km between Lushjnë - Vlorë; and 24 km between Tepelenë - Girokaster.

The loan to the Republic of Albania is for up to 25 years with a six-year grace period.

Bringing the roads up to modern international standards is crucial for underpinning the country's economic development. The North-South transport corridor has been given priority by the Albania Government and is included in the "Quick-Start - Near Term" package of crucial projects endorsed by the Regional Funding Conference for South-Eastern Europe in March this year.

The EIB's support reconfirms the Bank's commitment to the reconstruction and development of the Balkan economies. The European Commission is also supporting the project with grant finance under the EU-PHARE programme, reinforcing the EU's co-operation in underpinning the project.

The loan brings total EIB financing in Albania to some EUR 85 million, and complements two other road projects supported by the EIB - the upgrading of the main road East-West road corridor to Skopje and Istanbul and northern Greece, and the construction of a two-lane carriageway road section between the port of Durrës and the capital Tirana. The EIB has been active in Albania since 1994, mainly in the infrastructure sector, but also through a global loan (credit line) to Albania's banking sector for financing investments by small and medium-scale companies.

(1) 1 EUR: 0.596700 GBP, 130.888 ALL