The European Investment Bank will provide a Cohesion and Structural Funds Framework Facility of EUR 60 million to the Republic of Lithuania. The Facility will be used for co-financing projects fostering the development in the economic and social infrastructure (cofinanced by the EU Structural Funds) and projects in the fields of the environment and trans European networks (cofinanced by the EU Cohesion Fund).

The Facility will be used by the Lithuanian State for investments in priority areas identified in the National Development Plan, such as the development of transport, energy, water infrastructures as well as implementation of Community standards in the area of environment, and the development of infrastructure of health and education.

This Facility will complement EUs grant support identified by Lithuania and the European Commission under the Single programming Document, and under Cohesion Fund for the period 2004-2006. It aims at both facilitating and accelerating the implementation of investment schemes responding to the EU policy priorities for the further development of the Lithuanian economy and its faster integration to the EU. Their benefits are expected to be both spread over the country and have cross border effects.

The presence of the EIB, alongside the European Commission, will enhance the EU's support to a new Member State as well as further the Bank's support to a large number of investment schemes that in view of their relatively small size might not have direct access to EIB financing. The EIB lending policies substantially reflect the shared priorities of Lithuania and the EU during the Accession process and beyond. As Lithuania moves to EU membership, the Bank works closely with the Lithuanian Authorities and the European Commission to enhance the impact of its action and maximise its contribution, notably in respect of SME financing, financing of small municipal projects, Structural Funds Programming and implementation.

Mr. Sauli Niinistö, the Vice-President of the EIB whose responsibilities include Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States, who signed the loan today with Lithuanian Finance Minister Dalia Grybauskaite, commented on the signature saying: The loan signed today marks a new phase of cooperation between Lithuania and the EU institutions. It is complementary to EU grants that become available to Lithuania at its capacity as a EU Member State and focuses on facilitating and accelerating the implementation of investment schemes that promote further development of the Lithuanian economy and its faster integration into the EU.

Since 1990, the EIB has lent a total of EUR 23 billion in Central and Eastern Europe to finance projects fostering European integration, of which loans to Lithuania account for more than EUR 390 million. EUR 184 million was invested in the transport sector - 47% of the total lending - that cover construction of Lithuanian highways and roads (EUR 90 million), upgrading country's railways EUR (40 mil) and development of Klaipeda port (EUR 24 million) a well as modernisation of telecommunications (EUR 67 mil). Support to small and medium scale investments through Global Loans implemented by intermediary banks operating in Lithuania represents EUR 50 mio so far.