The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is providing a long-term loan of EUR 35 million to Dexia Crédit Local to help finance the emergency rebuilding of small and medium-scale public infrastructure damaged by the devastating floods of 8 and 9 September 2002 in south-east France, especially in the Gard Department of Languedoc-Roussillon, the area which was hardest hit.

The EIB funds will be earmarked for the investment schemes of local authorities faced with the task of repairing their transport, telecoms, energy, water, health, education and public safety infrastructure, as well as for flood defence works. This EIB loan on favourable terms will underpin the efforts of the French authorities by complementing the post-flood rehabilitation programmes set up by the Languedoc-Roussillon Region and Gard Department in support of small public bodies having to cope with emergency requirements beyond their normal means.

In the interests of close cooperation and efficiency, the Region and Department will deal directly with Dexia Crédit Local. DCL will manage the EIB resources, bolstering them where necessary with loans from the EUR 15 million emergency credit line that it set up in support of local authorities immediately following the floods.

In recent years, the European Investment Bank has provided special assistance in the form of emergency credit, as well as humanitarian grant aid, to a number of countries or regions struck by natural disasters: eastern Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary in September 1997 and September 2002; Honduras and Nicaragua in 1998; Greece, Kosovo and Turkey in 1999; and the Republic of Mozambique in 2000. Total EIB lending for post-flood reconstruction over the past few years runs to EUR 1.5 billion.

Founded in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Community, the EIB is the EU institution charged with financing capital projects that contribute to the goals of European integration. Its primary task, accounting for two thirds of its activity, is to promote the development of economically disadvantaged regions. Here and throughout the Union, the Bank also supports projects furthering EU policies in a range of other areas: transport and communications, environment, energy, industrial competitiveness and SMEs, R&D, health and education. In some 120 countries outside the European Union, the EIB participates in the implementation of EU development aid and cooperation policies. Its annual lending volume amounts to around EUR 37 billion. Operating on a non-profit basis and at no cost to the taxpayer, the EIB raises its financing resources on the capital markets.