The European Investment Bank, the European Union's financing institution, will finance the acquisition of an additional seven train sets for regional traffic across the Øresund Fixed Link between Malmö in southern Sweden and the Copenhagen area in Denmark. The loan of SEK 216 million (EUR 23 million) is in favour of the Region of Skåne, headquartered in Kristianstad, Sweden.

The Øresund Fixed Link, a 16 kilometres long connection between Malmö and Copenhagen that opened in July 2000, is one of the priority trans-European network (TEN) projects. The additional trains will help to increase the reliability and quality of railway services on the Swedish network in general and the Øresund Fixed Link in particular and thereby promote sustainable transport solutions in line with EU transport policy objectives. The EIB loan is the second phase of an operation signed in June 2002. In total, the EIB has lent some EUR 1,765 billion for the development of the Øresund Fixed Link project. 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 1,488 billion in Sweden and EUR 2,788 billion in Denmark. The Bank has given priority to supporting the more environmentally friendly schemes, concentrating over 40% of its loans into long-distance rail links and urban rail transport systems.

Health care

The EIB will also support a four-year health care investment programme in Skåne through a loan of SEK 1000m (EUR 109m). This project consists of a number of schemes concerned with the construction of new infrastructure and the adaptation of existing buildings, the procurement of research equipment and the purchase of IT. It will enable the Region of Skåne to pursue its objective of providing high quality care for its resident population in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The project also includes a number of substantial investments at Malmö University Hospital and Lund University Hospital, located in Medicon Valley in the Copenhagen-Malmö region. Medicon Valley now ranks as one of the fastest growing bioclusters' in Europe. Investments in these hospitals will help these establishments to further strengthen their position in clinical research.

EIB Vice President Mr Nowotny, said: The hospital investment programme to be part-financed by the Bank should make a significant contribution to the quality of health care and services in a number of hospitals throughout the Region of Skåne. This investment forms part of the EIB Innovation 2010 Initiative in the category of human capital and health, a top priority for the EIB. With the loan for the trains of the Øresund link, the EIB continues its support for environmentally friendly schemes and TEN priority networks.

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). In 2002, the EIB lent some EUR 33 billion within the EU of which EUR 720 million was in Sweden and over EUR 1 billion was in Denmark.

As part of its remit, the EIB supports the development of infrastructure networks with a Community dimension, notably in the transport sector. EIB financing in support of EU railways over the past five years has amounted to EUR 9,454 billion.