The global loan to Bank Polska Kasa Opieki S.A (Bank Pekao) and its subsidiaries serves to finance small- and medium-scale projects in the field of environmental protection, energy savings, infrastructure (incl. health and education infrastructure), industry, services or tourism in Poland. Final beneficiaries are, typically, SMEs; and private or public promoters of any size and ownership for energy, environmental protection or infrastructure projects.

Global loans are credit lines to financial intermediaries (partner banks) who use such funds for on-lending to final beneficiaries and for purposes as agreed on with EIB, at their own risk, but resulting in improved lending conditions and better service for the final beneficiaries as well as lower financing costs.

Support to SMEs is a key priority during the remaining pre-accession phase and will continue to be of high importance post enlargement. The global loan will enhance such EIB support in favour of the SME sector; have a catalytic effect on further foreign direct investments into Poland; improve the international competitiveness and integration of the country's industry; help to provide environmental protection and reduction of pollution; promote the rational use of energy and diversification of energy resources; and improve infrastructure. At the same time, it will contribute to the development of term finance in Poland, which is crucial for financing investment and catching up economically.

The loan will allow the Pekao group to increase and diversify long-term funding sources and therefore to step up its longer-term financing of eligible projects. Furthermore, the global loan to Pekao - which enjoys the second largest branch network in the country - will ensure continued competition among intermediaries throughout Poland, resulting in better service for the final beneficiaries and lower financing costs.

The loan is the first operation with Bank Pekao, the second largest bank in the whole Central and Eastern European (CEE) region in terms of assets. Pekao's main strategic shareholder is UniCredito Italiano.

Since 1990 the EIB has lent over 5.5 billion EUR to projects in Poland, more than in any other EU candidate country. Over 1 billion went to Trans-European road and rail networks (TENs), with emphasis on upgrading major international road and railway axes. Telecommunications, gas and larger industry schemes also attracted substantial loans from the EIB. Small and medium-scale industrial investments as well as smaller energy or infrastructure projects are being furthered through credit lines (global loans) to commercial banks established in Poland. The EIB also helped rebuild infrastructure damaged during the 1997 Odra and 2001 Vistula floods.

In the last years, EIB has undertaken efforts to better establish the global loan product in Poland. Global loans now represent 15% of EIB total lending to Poland of over EUR 5.5 billion. While this is above the accession countries' average of 13%, it is substantially below the EU average, reflecting the still more difficult operating environment and the lower development of term lending to SMEs and small municipalities in comparison with the EU.