The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is lending EUR 12.5 million (1) to the Commune of Salerno for the implementation of various small scale urban infrastructure schemes. The loan represents the first tranche of a larger available financing for a total amount of ITL 75 bn.

Investment schemes retained for EIB's financing cover social infrastructure, urban renewal, environment, traffic and mobility, and represent a substantial component of a wider investment programme initiated by the Salerno's municipality. 

The Commune's investment strategy, one of the most innovative urban investment schemes in Italy, is based on a new approach to the urban planning process. Under the guidance of the Spanish architect Oriol Bohigas, Salerno is implementing a wide ranging investment programme aimed at redefining the city, requalifying its infrastructure and regain the proper relationship between the city and the sea. The project is explicitly inspired to urban programmes implemented in Barcelona. One of the main characteristics in Salerno's urban planning process is the definition of compact intervention areas (so called "isole") which are integrated into the wider general planning act. The implementation of the investment programme is carried out by the municipality's Technical Departments along with an "ad hoc" specialised office (Ufficio di Piano) run by consultants. 

The transaction marks an important step in that it represents the first loan to a medium-sized local authority in the Mezzogiorno. Salerno has been chosen in view of the quality of its investment programme, the innovation of its administration and the prospects for future socio-economic improvements. The Bank is targeting other medium sized local authorities in the Mezzogiorno and will focus its efforts in the co-financing of investments eligible to EU grants under the 2000-2006 Community Support Framework.

Salerno is the tenth Commune to be financed by the EIB in Italy, after Florence, Bologna, Venice, Naples, Rome, Palermo, Milan, Rimini and Reggio nell'Emilia and for a total commitment of EUR 851 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 = 1936.27 ITL ; 0.6304 GBP