The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is lending EUR 20 million to Croatia Control Ltd. (Hrvatska kontrola zracne plovidbe d.o.o.) for works to improve the efficiency, safety and capacity of air traffic services in Croatia. The EIB is supporting the investment because of its wider benefits for the South Eastern European region.

The investment comprises the equipment and a new building for modernising the air traffic control centre located at Zagreb airport. The project, scheduled for completion in 2005, will be implemented and operated by the Croatia Control Ltd., the national air traffic control company, established as a fully State-owned entity in 2000, and responsible for air traffic control (ATC) over Croatia.

The investment will have substantial air traffic security benefits for Croatia, by improving safety of airport approach within the country and for international transit flights in its air traffic control region, which account for about 80% of the aircraft movements in its area. It will allow the full integration of the Croatian air traffic control services into the European and regional systems and extend its handling capacity so as to cope with future demand, expected to reach 250 000 fly-over flights by 2010.

This is the first concrete investment to come out of the EIB -managed Air Traffic System Study, which was realised within the "Quick-Start" package of projects for the reconstruction of the Western Balkan region. The Investment has been supported jointly by the EIB and EBRD.

The EIB is a lead player in implementing the European Union's priority objectives. In 2001, EIB financing for projects supporting European Union policy objectives totalled EUR 37 billion (up 13% on 1999). EUR 31 billion went to projects within the EU Member States and close to EUR 3 billion to those in the Accession Countries, while lending in other countries ran to EUR 3 billion. To fund these activities, the EIB borrowed EUR 32 billion on the world's capital markets.

In South-East Europe, the EIB operates under the Mandate for Central and Eastern Europe agreed by the Council of Ministers for 2000 to 2007, which provides for EIB lending of up to EUR 9.28 billion, which complements the EU, as well as EU Member States' own bilateral co-operation policies. To underline its commitment to future post-war reconstruction in the Balkan area, the EIB played an active role in the preparation phase of the reconstruction investment programme, in cooperation with the European Commission and the other multilateral financing institutions. The list of potential infrastructure projects which was published in the Study on Basic Infrastructure Investment in South-Eastern Europe comprises a total of 85 projects totalling EUR 4 billion. Of this total, 35 projects are Quick-Start totalling EUR 1.1 billion, in which the EIB has a lead role in 14, totalling EUR 720 million, i.e. 65% of the total. 50 projects are "Near-Term", totalling some EUR 3 billion, of which EIB has a lead role in 18, amounting to some EUR 1 billion, i.e. 33% of the total Near-Term package.