The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, announces a EUR 200 million framework loan to the Autonomous Community of Castilla-La Mancha for financing small and medium-scale infrastructure projects along with health, education and other employment-generating schemes in the region. This is the largest EIB loan ever granted to this Spanish Autonomous Community.

The finance contract was signed this morning in Luxembourg by EIB Vice-President Isabel Martín Castellá and Castilla-La Mancha's Economic Adviser Maria Luisa Araujo Chamorro.

The projects to be financed under this framework loan form part of regional authority programmes designed to stimulate the local economy and accord with the objectives of the 2002-2006 Community Support Framework for Castilla-La Mancha. Specifically, the loan will serve to finance schemes involving urban regeneration, construction of community centres, refurbishment of historic buildings, cultural facilities, primary education, conference centres, business parks, clinics and hospitals.

The projects will be mounted in areas classified as Objective 1 under the EU's aid programmes, and will contribute to economic and social development, improved competitiveness and job creation in the region.

The EIB was created in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community, with the remit of contributing to the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the Member States through the long-term financing of capital investment furthering the Union's objectives.

In 2002, the EIB granted loans totalling approximately EUR 39 600 million, of which 5 426 million went towards projects in Spain.