During a visit of its Board of Directors to Spain, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, has signed contracts for two loans totalling EUR 100 million for financing investment projects in Andalusia.

EUR 80 million for the Autonomous Community of Andalusia

A EUR 80 million loan has been advanced to the Autonomous Community of Andalusia for financing infrastructure and industrial investment forming part of the Regional Development Programme for Andalusia approved by the European Commission.

The contract for the first tranche of this loan (EUR 30 million) was signed this morning in Seville by EIB President, Philippe Maystadt and the Finance Director of the Council of Andalusia, Magdalena Álvarez, in the presence of the President of the Autonomous Community, Manuel Chaves.

This is the first time that the EIB is cofinancing a regional development programme in Spain. The funds made available will round off the financing of investment projects already attracting EU structural funds under the Community Support Framework for 2000-2006.

With over 7 million inhabitants, Andalusia is Spain's largest Objective 1 region and one of the biggest and most populous in Europe.

This EIB loan will primarily be earmarked for improving the competitiveness of SMEs and other local firms and boosting their workforce; developing production structures; fostering the knowledge society (innovation, R&D, IT); safeguarding the environment, natural habitats and water resources; creating educational infrastructure; promoting urban and rural development; and upgrading transport and energy networks.

EUR 20 million for IFA

A global loan of EUR 20 million has been granted to Instituto de Fomento de Andalucía (IFA) for financing investment projects promoted by SMEs in the region.

The contract for this loan was signed yesterday in Seville by EIB Vice-President, Isabel Martín Castellá, and the Chairman of lFA, Antonio Fernández García.

This is the third such credit line made available by the EIB to IFA. It will enable the Council of Andalusia's regional development agency to finance small and medium-scale ventures mounted by Andalusian SMEs in the fields of industry, tourism, services, infrastructure, environmental protection, energy, health, education and housing.

In 2001, the EIB approved 7 global loans totalling EUR 1 290 million for the same number of Spanish financial institutions. These served to finance some 5 000 SME projects, as well as infrastructural and environmental works carried out by local authorities.

EIB's Directors meet in Seville and approve substantial lending in Spain

The EIB's Board of Directors meets once a year away from the Bank's headquarters in Luxembourg with the aim of forging direct links with EIB clients and examining a variety of projects with representatives of public authorities, business and the financial sector.

Besides visiting a number of EIB-financed projects in Andalusia, on 19 September the Bank's Directors held a meeting in Seville, at which they approved the financing of major Spanish projects such as the Madrid-Barcelona-Figueres high-speed train line (AVE), Seville metro and Pamplona-Logroño motorway. Information on these will be provided when the corresponding loan contracts are signed.

The EIB was founded in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community, with the aim of fostering enhanced integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion in the Member States by providing long-term financing for capital investment furthering EU objectives.

Specifically, the EIB supports viable projects promoting: development of the Union's less favoured regions; construction of trans-European transport, telecoms and energy networks; the international competitiveness and integration of Europe's industry, especially SMEs; environmental protection and improvement; security of the Union's energy supply; and health and education. Within certain limits, the EIB also provides financing outside the Union in support of the EU's policy of cooperation with third countries.

Owned by the EU Member States, the EIB funds its lending operations through borrowings raised on the capital markets, where its bond issues systematically enjoy the top AAA rating.

In 2001, the EIB signed loans in Spain totalling EUR 4 559 million, including some EUR 4 500 million for projects in Andalusia.