The European Investment Bank, the European Union's (EU) financing institution, puts in place an emergency special support credit programme, for financing immediate flood relief in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia.

EIB Vice President Wolfgang Roth informed the Governments concerned and outlined the EIB flood special support programme in a letter yesterday.

EIB's intention is that loans directed to specific projects and action benefiting immediately the flood stricken areas could cover on an exceptional basis up to 100% of external funding requirements and have very fine interest rates, as well as particularly long repayment periods of up to 30 years. The Bank has offered to help the reconstruction projects of private and public entities in those sectors in which it is traditionally active.

The exact amount of the flood reconstruction special support programme and its operational details will be announced in the near future once the needs will be identified and evaluated.

In recent years the European Investment Bank has provided immediate special credit support, as well as humanitarian grant aid to countries or regions severely hit by disasters, such as the East-German regions, Poland and the Czech Republic in September 1997, Honduras and Nicaragua in 1998, Greece, Kosovo and Turkey in 1999 and in the Republic of Mozambique in 2000. EIB loans for flood reconstruction in recent years has totalled EUR 1 billion.

The European Investment Bank (EIB), established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome setting up the European Community, is the European Union's long-term financing institution supporting capital investment projects that further European integration. While strengthening economically weak regions in the European Union (EU) has always been its main objective, the Bank also finances projects in support of other EU policies. In some 120 countries outside the Union the EIB is participating in the implementation of the EU's development and co-operation policy. In 2001, the EIB provided loans totalling EUR 36.8 billion. The Bank borrows on the capital markets the funds for its lending. Its bonds have regularly been rated "AAA" by the leading rating agencies. As the EIB works on a non-profit basis it can pass on to project promoters the excellent conditions it obtains on the markets. The EIB normally finances up to 50 percent of project cost; on average it provides one third of the funding and co-finances investments with other institutions.