The European Investment Bank is advancing EUR 110 m for the construction of a flood barrier on the lower Ems River and a further EUR 75 m in support of urban regeneration projects in Lower Saxony.

The new Ems barrage at Gandersum will provide improved flood protection for some 400 000 residents in an area of more than 2 000 km2. The project also includes a facility for temporarily raising the water level of the Ems River to allow the transfer of large ships from local shipyards to the sea, thus honing the competitive edge of the regional shipbuilding industry.

With its credit line of EUR 75 million, the EIB is contributing to Lower Saxony's "Socially Integrated City" programme, designed to complement traditional urban development and regenerate problem districts, for example by encouraging the establishment of small businesses. This initiative is also backed by development funds from both national and regional governments and the European Union.

During the contract signature, EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth emphasised that the EIB's loans on favourable terms would represent considerable interest savings for the State of Lower Saxony, thereby creating scope for additional investment.

The European Investment Bank, with its head office in Luxembourg, is the European Union's financing arm. The Bank finances infrastructure development and upgrading as well as investment by European enterprises aimed at strengthening their international competitiveness. Its annual lending in 2001 totalled around EUR 37 billion, of which some EUR 6 billion went to Germany.