The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term lending institution, has signed a EUR 50 million loan with the Monte dei Paschi di Siena banking group for use by its subsidiary Banca Verde, for the financing of small and medium-sized projects in the renewable energy and environmental sectors.

Banca Verde provides both advisory services and lending in agriculture, agribusiness, environment and renewable energy. Within the latter categories, Banca Verde is involved with ECOLABEL certification for hotels, restructuring of rural lodgings, waste and water treatment, energy generation with renewable resources and low environmental impact, construction of environmentally friendly buildings and EMAS and/or ISO 14000 certifications of SMEs and local authorities.

Banca Verde changed its name from Istituto Nazionale di Credito Agrario (INCA) in October 2001. Accordingly, the Bank's mission was redefined as an entity with a strong focus on ethical banking with a specialization on energy saving and environment protection.

Banca Verde operates through 5 geographical offices and coordinates with the MPS branches. Banca Verde has been the first signatory of the United Nations Environment Programme document for financial intermediaries on sustainable growth and environment.

The EIB is owned by the EU Member States. Set up in 1958, its mission is to contribute to the EU's policy objectives by financing sound investment. Though a not-for-profit organisation, it is self-financing, raising its funds by borrowing on capital markets.

EIB's key operational objectives are to finance: regional development and economic and social cohesion of the EU, including integration of Candidate countries; knowledge and R&D intensive industries; environmental protection and improvement; improved international competitiveness of industry; SMEs; trans-European networks in transport, telecom and energy; human capital: education and health. EIB also supports the EU's development and co-operation policies in Partner Countries outside the EU by providing finance under mandate.

The European Investment Fund (EIF), in which the EIB has a majority stake, is the EU specialised vehicle providing venture capital and guarantee instruments, mainly for small and medium sized enterprises.