The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, has granted a EUR 200 million global loan to Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona - La Caixa - for financing small and medium-scale investment projects mounted by local authorities throughout Spain. La Caixa intends to channel around 70% of the proceeds into schemes located in Objective 1 and 2 areas, thereby fostering regional development and Spain's convergence with the rest of the EU.

This is the EIB's ninth global loan to this financial institution. The previous one (for EUR 100 million) was granted in early 2003 for financing projects promoted by SMEs. The multi-purpose global loan signed today is geared to financing investment meeting one of the following EU objectives: environmental protection and reduction of pollution; more rational energy use and the development or diversification of energy sources; investment in small and medium-scale infrastructure and in health, education and urban development.

In 2002, the EIB approved 14 global loans (totalling EUR 2 030 million) for the same number of Spanish financial institutions, serving to finance SME projects and local authority environmental and infrastructure schemes.

The EIB was created in 1958 by the founding treaty of the European Economic Community, the Treaty of Rome. It was set up to contribute to the integrated and balanced development of the Member States, as well as to their economic and social cohesion, by providing long-term finance for capital investment fulfilling EU objectives.

The EIB finances small and medium-scale projects by means of its global loan facility, created in 1968. Global loans are lines of credit opened with banks and other national, regional and local financial intermediaries, which onlend the proceeds in the form of sub-loans targeting small and medium-scale investment schemes meeting the Bank's eligibility criteria.