Mr Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank, and Mr Rainer Masera, President of Sanpaolo IMI Group (SPIMI) and Mr Walter Cernoia, Chief Executive Officer of Sanpaolo IMI Internazionale, signed today a EUR 100 million global loan facility to support investment projects promoted by small and medium-sized enterprises in Hungary, Romania and Slovenia.

The global loan - a credit line - will make EIB funds available for small and medium scale entrepreneurs and municipalities in support of projects with total cost between EUR 40,000 to EUR 25 million. The loans will be provided to investors through subsidiaries of SPIMI - Inter Europa Bank rt. (IEB) in Hungary, San Paolo IMI Romania S.A. and Banka Koper d.d. (BK) in Slovenia.

This global loan is primarily intended to finance investment projects of SMEs, private or public promoters, of any size, active in the sectors of energy, environmental protection, general infrastructure, diffusion of innovation, research and development, information and communications networks, health and education and social housing.

Commenting on the loan signed in Venice on the occasion of the Finance Ministers' Conference on the Balkans, EIB President Maystadt stated: The development of small and medium-sized enterprises is important first of all in countries where the SME sector is not yet a deeply-rooted part of the economic scene. Our Global Loan facility will provide an advantageous source of finance for the development of this sector that encourages entrepreneurship and represents an important source of job creation.

Since 1990, the EIB has lent a total of EUR 21 billion in Central and Eastern Europe to finance projects fostering European integration, almost EUR 3 billion of this figure being provided through Global Loans. Lending so far this year to the countries of the region exceeds EUR 2 billion.

The prime objective of the EIB in Central and Eastern Europe is to prepare the future Member States for EU membership and to integrate them into the Single Market. The EIB has the following priorities in the future Member States:

  • transport to improve the connections between the future Member States and the European Union as well as interlinking these countries, which is a precondition for successful economic integration. Upgrading and further construction of the local infrastructure network and its connection to the Trans-European Network is a major element in strengthening economic competitiveness, achieving balanced and sustainable development of these countries and re-enforcing their economic and social cohesion;
  • human capital development and promotion of a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy in line with the Lisbon Strategy. In this connection, the Bank finances projects supporting the development of R&D infrastructure, formation and training of human capital, diffusion of innovation and modernisation of telecommunication networks;
  • protection and upgrading of the natural and urban environment to enable the future Member States to comply with EU standards represents another priority lending area for the EIB;
  • foreign direct investment that provides capital and know-how, modern technology and management skills for economic modernisation and increased competitiveness.