The European Investment Bank (EIB) announces a loan of EUR 100 million to Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m.b.H. (BIG) for the refurbishment and construction of primary and secondary schools and universities. 34 buildings in Vienna and other towns are concerned. These measures form part of an investment programme covering several years, aimed at improving the quality of education. Overall, the EIB is authorised to advance up to EUR 250 m to the Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m.b.H. for upgrading educational facilities in Austria.

The higher education component includes modernisation of Vienna Technical University through the construction of new buildings for the Mechanical Engineering Faculty and new facilities for the Institute of Chemistry. At Vienna University, the main schemes focus on the Dental School and extension of the library. The other sub-projects involve Vienna's University of Agricultural Science and the Technical University of Graz.

At secondary school level, 21 individual schemes are being financed, of which seven are located in Vienna and the remaining 14 are spread throughout the country. This component centres on upper general, vocational and technical secondary schools. The total area of buildings to be refurbished or constructed amounts to 440 000 m2.

During signature of the contract in Vienna, EIB Vice-President Prof. Ewald Nowotny affirmed, "In financing these projects, the EIB is underpinning the EU's objective of promoting the transition to an information and knowledge-based society through expanding educational infrastructure and stepping up research and development, thus reinforcing Europe's capacity for innovation and competitiveness. The EIB's favourable lending conditions provide Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft, responsible for key infrastructure projects, with a clear interest-rate advantage compared with borrowing on the capital markets, so allowing it to undertake further essential investment."

The EIB, with headquarters in Luxembourg, is the EU's long-term financing arm. Its shareholders are the EU Member States. With a lending volume of EUR 36 billion in 2000, the EIB was again the world's leading multi-lateral financial institution. The EIB's remit is to support EU priority objectives: regional development, expansion of trans-European transport and telecommunications networks (TENs), security of energy supplies, environmental protection and urban renewal, health and education and promotion of SMEs and innovative companies in general. Total EIB lending in Austria since 1995 amounts to EUR 3.5 billion.