The European Investment Bank is providing a EUR 100 million global loan to Banco de Crédito Local de España (BCL) to ease the citizens' access to the public information provided by the Spanish local authorities. The global loan will be used to finance internet related investments of local authorities and public sector institutions in order to implement e-government services at municipal level. The whole project will be built up around the MUNICIPIA internet portal, which will be set up and manage by BCL.
The loan is part of EIB's Innovation 2000 Initiative (i2i) to promote a knowledge-based and innovation-oriented economy. i2i focuses on human capital formation, research and development, dissemination of innovation, development of SMEs and entrepreneurship, as well as information and communications technology networks.
The project is in line with the priorities of the European Commission's e-Europe 2002 programme to develop government online services. It aims to bring government services closer to the citizens and to reduce public expenditure by cutting bureaucracy and by making available better Europe-wide market information. With this project the EIB expects to catalyse rapidly further investment to expand e-government services. As indicated by the Lisbon European Council's (March 2001) call, Member States are "to ensure generalised electronic access to main basic public services by 2003".
The EIB was set up in 1958 to finance investment furthering EU integration. The EIB concentrates lending in areas considered top priority by its shareholders, the European Union Member States. Current priorities are: EU regional development, i2i, environmental improvement and protection, preparation of candidate countries for accession, as well as support of EU development and cooperation policy with some 150-partner countries. The latter are in South Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, Asia and Latin America.
In 2000, the EIB provided loans totalling some EUR 36 billion. The Bank borrows on the capital markets the funds it lends. Its bonds have regularly been rated "AAA" by the leading rating agencies. The EIB may finance up to 50 percent of project cost. On average it provides one third of the funding and co-finances investments with other institutions.