With the signing of the first EUR 100 million tranche of a total EUR 200 million loan, the European Investment Bank has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the Municipality of Rome's investment in urban regeneration.

The projects eligible for EIB financing form part of the initiatives comprising the Municipality's 2003-2005 Investment Plan and consist of small and medium-scale schemes in the transport, environment, education and social infrastructure sectors. The credit line will be directed in particular towards projects involving the upgrading and improvement of public transport networks, reuse of brownfield sites for service activities, relocation of the Municipality's administrative offices and subsequent conversion of prestigious historical buildings into cultural facilities. The modernisation of reception centres and social and healthcare infrastructure may also be considered.

In line with the priorities identified by the 2000 Lisbon European Council, which in launching the Social Agenda highlighted the importance of combating social exclusion and eliminating regional imbalances, the EIB is also exploring, along with the Municipality of Rome, the possibility of mounting another operation targeting investment in the development of social protection services aimed at improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable segments of the urban population (the disabled, immigrants, the poor, the young and the elderly) and fostering the social and economic regeneration of marginal and disadvantaged areas of the capital.

The EIB has already contributed to a number of key infrastructure projects in the Rome area. A previous loan to the municipality signed in March 2000 has been used in its entirety to finance projects in the transport and environment sectors.

Since 1998, the Bank has opened similar credit lines totalling over EUR 1 billion to the Italian municipalities of Florence, Bologna, Venice, Naples, Milan, Reggio Emilia, Rimini and Salerno.

The EIB, the European Union's long-term financing institution, funds capital investment furthering European integration in areas such as regional development, trans-European transport, telecoms and energy networks, industrial competitiveness and integration, SMEs, environmental protection and energy security. It also operates outside the Union within the framework of the EU's development aid and co-operation policy. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on the capital markets (AAA-rated issuer).