The Province of Ferrara is the first province within the European Union to receive a direct loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU's financing institution. Provinces, local authorities which lie between Municipalities and Regions, have considerable responsibilities in the areas of local planning and environmental management in Italy. Hence, after mounting a series of operations in favour of municipalities and regions, the Bank is now turning to Provinces.

The finance contract relating to the tranche for the Province was signed in Ferrara by EIB Vice-President, Massimo Ponzellini, and by the President of the Province, Pier Giorgio Dell'Acqua.

The "Ferrara Province Development" project provides for the opening of a EUR 100 million line of credit by the EIB to finance infrastructure and firms connected with the local development plan drawn up by the provincial administration.

Of these resources, EUR 25 million will be deployed directly by the Province; the remaining EUR 75 million will be intermediated via a financial institution soon to be identified with a broad presence, through its own network, in the province in question.

Integrating a direct loan from the EIB to a public authority with an operation in favour of a financial intermediary active locally represents an innovation. The combination of these instruments should help bodies and firms interested in the Province's programme of operations to optimise their ability to raise funds.

The loan, put together by the EIB's Department for Lending Operations in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta, in cooperation with the Province of Ferrara's Budget Division managed by Alfredo Zagatti, will finance projects in the infrastructure and industrial sectors. In particular, the portion managed directly by the Province will be used for road safety operations whilst the intermediated share will be targeted towards ventures of local bodies and firms.

In tandem with the loan, a letter of intent was also signed between the EIB, the Province and Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara, the provincial administration's treasury institution. This represents an important first step towards optimising the use of funds earmarked for local authorities and SMEs located throughout the Province.

The EIB, the European Union's long-term financing institution, underpins capital investment furthering EU integration in fields such as regional development, transport, telecoms and energy infrastructure, industrial competitiveness and SMEs, environmental protection, security of energy supplies, R&D, advanced technology, health and education. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the Community development aid and co-operation policy. Owned by the EU Member States, the EIB raises funds on the capital markets (AAA issuer).