The European Investment Bank is lending EUR 31 million(1) to the City of Lodz in central Poland to upgrade the drinking water and wastewater networks. The EIB loan, which is granted for 20 years, will help the City of Lodz to implement a five-year infrastructure investment programme. In addition to the network improvements, the expansion of a wastewater treatment station and several collectors as well as some road works will be financed with the EIB loan. The European Commission is also participating in the financing under its grant programme ISPA, specifically aiming at environmental and transport schemes in the candidate countries.

With some 810 000 residents, Lodz is Poland's second largest city. It is located on the Ner River, a tributary of the Odra, which flows into the Baltic Sea. The City's authorities have recognised the urgency of investing in its water and wastewater systems in order to meet national and EU environmental standards, to attract new industries and to lift the quality of life for its inhabitants.

Over the last year or so the EIB has developed a strong role as an investor in water projects in the candidate countries and especially in Poland where water improvement schemes were financed in Zywiec, Torun, Bielsko-Biala and Sczecin, in addition to Lodz. Of nearly EUR 3 billion lent in the candidate countries last year, EUR 745 million (26%) went to environmental projects including numerous water schemes.

Since 1990 the EIB lent some EUR 3.8 billion (of which EUR 941 million in 2000) to projects in Poland, more than in any other EU candidate. About 1 billion went to Trans-European road and rail networks (TENs), with emphasis on upgrading major international road and railway axes. Telecommunications, gas and larger industry schemes also attracted substantial loans from the EIB. Small and medium-scale industrial investments as well as smaller energy or infrastructure projects are being furthered through global loans (credit lines) to commercial banks established in Poland. The EIB also helped rebuild infrastructure damaged during the 1997 floods in Silesia.

Since 1990, the EIB has lent EUR 13.7 billion to projects in the ten Central European EU applicants: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria. EIB plans to lend around EUR 4 billion per year in Central Europe over the coming years. In addition, the Bank is helping the western Balkans where projects were already financed in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

(1) 1 EUR = 4.03350 PLN, 0.613400 GBP, 0.87650 USD