The European Investment Bank will provide a EUR 45.9 million loan to finance selected investment schemes in the wastewater sector across Hungary. The project concerns the rehabilitation, the expansion and the upgrading to EU standards of several wastewater treatment facilities with regard to sewerage collection, treatment and sludge disposal located in three regional centres of the country: Debrecen, Kecskemet and Szombathely.

The principal local benefits of the investments will be pollution abatement, improved local amenities and reduced risks to public health. The project will also promote the development of sound institutional capacity in the environmental sector. All the investment schemes will be co-financed with the EU Commission's Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA) and comply with the relevant national strategies and also with the ISPA requirements.

EIB Vice President Wolfgang Roth, who signed the loan together with Mr.Csaba László, Minister of Finance, commented on the project as follows: Implementation of the selected projects will accelerate Hungary's compliance with EU standards in the sector of environment that has been neglected for decades under the previous regime. The EIB will continue to finance projects focused on upgrading environment and help Hungary to fulfil commitments following from EU legislation, especially from the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment and Water Framework Directives.

The loan represents already the third environment sector lending to the Hungarian state that brings the total amount of the EIB investment in the area of environment to EUR 168.9 million since 2001. All three operations provide financial support to Hungary for dealing with the severe environmental problems. In the environmental sector, air quality, surface water quality, wastewater treatment and solid waste management all present major environmental risks and are in dire need of financing resources.

Since 1990, the EIB has lent over EUR 23 billion in total in Central and Eastern Europe, of which almost EUR 800 million was invested in water and wastewater treatment sector. Loans provided to Hungary so far amount to EUR 3.3 billion, of which almost EUR 700 million has been provided in 2003.