The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, announces a EUR 500 million loan to Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles EspaƱoles (RENFE) for part-financing projects to upgrade and modernise railway infrastructure in Spain.

This loan forms part of the framework cooperation agreement concluded in October 2002 between the EIB, RENFE and the Spanish Ministry of Public Works with the aim of improving and renewing the national rail network during the period 2003-2006. Specifically, the EIB funds will serve to finance infrastructure projects enhancing the safety, speed, reliability and comfort of the country's rail network.

The majority of projects will be mounted in Objective 1 and 2 regions under the EU's structural funds, facilitating the expansion of the transport system in these areas and in general contributing to Spain's economic development.

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.