The European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU's financing institution, is advancing a EUR 350 million (1) loan for investment schemes in the urban renewal sector in the city of Milan. Half of the total financing (EUR 175 million) is being advanced directly to the Commune, while the other half is being channelled through Banca OPI SpA, forming part of the San Paolo Imi banking group.

The operation is part of EIB's strategy aimed at supporting the economic development of urban conglomerates, improving the urban environment and protecting the quality of life of their inhabitants. EIB financing will mainly benefit the transportation, urban renewal, cultural heritage and social infrastructure sectors. The investment schemes financed by the Bank are also expected to contribute to make Milan a more effective provider of services, and attract the location of productive activities, indirectly safeguarding employment levels.

With 1.3 million inhabitants on 182 km and a 3.8 million population in the province, which roughly coincides with the metropolitan area, Milan is the main hub of the Italian economy. The metropolitan economy relies heavily on services, with a strong weight for financial and business. The industrial base is also important, with about 300,000 enterprises.

Milan is the sixth Commune to be financed by the Bank in Italy, after Florence, Bologna, Venice, Naples and Rome, for a total commitment of EUR 413 million. 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 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. 

(1) 1 EUR = 0.596700 GBP ; 1 936.27 ITL