The European Investment Bank, the European Union's financing institution, will support a road project in Norway which will improve land transport links between Norway and Sweden. The loan of NOK 600 million (approx. EUR 82 million) concerns the E6 Oestfolt Road Project which is the main international highway connecting the two countries. At present it is estimated that some 60% of international road traffic uses this route and thus is a major strategic artery of the country. The project forms part of the Nordic Triangle, which is one of the fourteen TEN (Trans European Networks) priority projects.

The project involves the development of five sections of a tolled motorway replacing the existing two-lane highway between Akershus and Aasgaard (23.5 km) and Alvim and Svingenskogen (21 km). When the other sections (including those in Sweden) are complete there will be a full dual lane motorway connecting Oslo and Göteborg. The project includes seventeen bridges and seven interchanges that will either be rebuilt or completely upgraded as well as two tolling stations. The capacity of the road will increase from approximately 15,000 vehicles per day to an estimated 50,000 vehicles per day.

The improved road will enhance transport efficiency and safety conditions, and will also reduce travel times for local as well as for international transit traffic. The final beneficiary and promoter of the project is the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, a government agency operating under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport and Communication.

This project will be jointly financed by the State and a concession company (OestfoldBompengeselskap AS) which will collect the toll revenues from the users. Oestfold Bompengeselskap is wholly owned by the County Council of Oestfold.

The EIB is pleased to be involved in the financing of this key element of the Nordic Triangle Trans European network infrastructure, EIB Vice-President Ewald Nowotny said.

Arne Oren, Chairman of Oestfold Bompengeselskap AS, said: By 2009 the whole E6 road link will be upgraded to motorway standard. This type of infrastructure finance is one of the areas where the EIB can play a key role with its long term financing and we are pleased with the EIB support.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development, trans-European networks in transport, telecom and energy; industrial competitiveness and integration; SMEs; environmental protection; and energy security. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's co-operation external policy. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer). The EIB has maintained a high level of financing in the European transport sector, committing some EUR 39 billion over the past five years for transport projects of which EUR some 5 billion in the Nordic countries. In 2002, the EIB lent some EUR 33 billion within the EU of which almost 2.5 billion EUR was in the Nordic countries.