The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, announces a EUR 50 million loan to the Institut Català de Finances (ICF) for part-financing the construction and refurbishment of rented social housing in Catalonia. This represents the first tranche of a total loan of EUR 100 million.

The project forms part of the Catalan Housing Plan for 2002-2007 implemented by the Generalitat de Catalunya's Department for Town and Country Planning and Public Works via its Directorate General for Architecture and Housing (DGAH). This is the EIB's first loan for housing in Catalonia.

The loan will be used to finance the rented social housing component of the Housing Plan, and specifically the refurbishment of old buildings and investment in improving infrastructure and constructing or upgrading residential buildings intended for rental in urban regeneration areas identified and approved by the DGAH. Existing housing units targeted by the loan will have a maximum floor area of 70 m2 and new units an average of 50 m2.

The goal of this programme is to increase the stock of rented social housing between 2002-2007 by at least 4 000 new units.

The project will increase the supply of social housing in Objective 2 areas under the EU's structural funds, reducing social exclusion and promoting urban development 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.