The European Investment Bank, the European Union's financing arm, is providing EUR 60 million for flood protection schemes in the Czech Republic to prevent flood damages similar to those regularly suffered since 1997. The loan brings to EUR 3 billion the total lent by the Bank to projects in the Czech Republic.

The loan to the Czech Republic will be used by its Ministry of Agriculture to finance through its River basin Boards and other relevant bodies a number of schemes, mostly within the river basins of the Morava, Elbe and Oder. The loan helps financing integrated flood protection measures along these rivers and their tributaries, including dikes, weirs, diversification channels and retention reservoirs.

In 1997 the Czech Republic saw the worst floods since more than 100 years affecting half a million of its 10 million population; including recurrent floods up to 2001, the losses cumulated to 72 deaths and EUR 2.1 bn of material damages. In parallel to infrastructure reconstruction efforts supported by the EIB with a EUR 200 million loan in 1997, the Czech authorities developed a 'Strategy for Protection against Floods'. The project comprises prioritised schemes of the first phase of the National Flood Protection Strategy, to be implemented in the years 2002-05.

Commenting on the loan Mr. Roth said: 'We hope that our loan for the flood prevention measures will help to protect human lives and health as well as economic property from the potentially devastating effects of future floods. The projects selected by our Czech partners are a preriquisite for lowering these risks and for a stable economic development in the affected regions. They will also help fostering good relations with neighbouring countries by managing downstream water flows to Germany, Poland and the Danube basin.'