The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 100 million to Aquafin for the construction of sewage- and wastewater treatment facilities in Flanders, Belgium.

This loan agreement, arranged in collaboration with Dexia goes to support Aquafin's major investment programme of nearly EUR 2.7 billion to improve the environment in the Region of Flanders, in line with national and European environment objectives. The water management programme for the Region, initiated by Aquafin in 1991 , includes construction and modernisation of mains sewers, pumping stations and sewage treatment facilities. Aquafin currently manages 200 wastewater treatment plants and some 3,500 km of mains sewers.

The finance contract was signed by EIB Vice-President Isabel Martín Castellá, Mr Ivo van Vaerenbergh, Chairman of Aquafin, and Mr Luc Bossyns, Chief Executive Officer at Aquafin's head office in Antwerp.

A key operation target for the EIB, the European Union's long-term lending institution, is to finance projects that directly promote the Union's policies to protect the environment and reduce pollution in Europe. Aquafin's regional water management scheme will ultimately benefit a population of 5.9 million. The investment will also have a positive effect on water quality of the North Sea as it forms part of international measures to reduce the level of pollution in these waters.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular regional development and environmental protection. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer). In 2001, the EIB lent some EUR 31 billion within the EU and has lent, in the past five years, over 3 EUR billion in Belgium. From 1997 until 2001, EUR 6.806 million has been devoted for environmental purposes within the European Union, mainly into water resource management (construction of sewerage and wastewater treatment systems) and solid waste processing. The EIB is, among others, also active in the Accession countries and the Mediterranean Partnership countries with loans for environmental projects amounting to EUR 1,730 million and EUR 1,650 million respectively in the years 1997-2001.