The European Investment Bank has signed a loan for an amount of EUR 20 million to improve education facilities in Turku (Finland). The project involves the building, upgrading and refurbishment of comprehensive, upper secondary and vocational schools throughout the city of Turku.

The project, with its human capital and education focus, is fully compatible with the EIB's support for the EU's Lisbon Strategy that aims at developing the Union in a leading area for research and innovation. The EIB loan improves the access of the city to education facilities, which is an essential tool to provide a foundation of basic skills to enable individuals to play a full role in civil society. Appropriate investment in equipment, including that relating to information technology, will provide a basis for continuing, lifelong learning, one of the priority areas of the Lisbon Strategy and EIB's Innovation 2010 programme.

This is the Bank's third loan in favour of Turku following on from the City of Turku Water Infrastructure project (loan of EUR 50m signed in December 2001) and the Turku Biotechnology project (loan of EUR 28m signed in October 2002).

Mr Sauli Niinistö, the EIB Vice-president responsible for Finland, said: This loan for Finnish regional education concerns a project comprising viable and sound components with well-defined objectives. It complements previous projects in the education sector financed by the EIB and fits well with the Bank's Innovation 2010 programme.

Turku Mayor Mr Armas Lahoniitty said: This loan should consolidate the already good relationship existing between the City and EIB. It will help us to achieve economies in running the facilities.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development, research, development and innovation, trans-European transport, telecom and energy networks; industrial competitiveness; SMEs, and environmental protection. Priority is further given to the economic integration of the future Member States into the Union. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's policy for co-operation and development. Owned by its Member States, the EIB raises its funds on the capital markets (AAA-rated issuer). As part of its remit, the EIB supports the development of infrastructure networks with a Community dimension, notably in the transport sector.