The European Investment Bank is providing a EUR 95 million loan to Slovakia for implementation of projects furthering the country's integration into the European Union. The loan will be used for co-financing projects in combination with EU grant aid from the Cohesion and Structural Funds in line with the priorities identified by the Slovak National Development Programme (NDP). It will help to cover Slovakia's needs as regards the co-financing of projects receiving support from EU Funds. The loan will provide pre-financing of the programmes before actually receiving the corresponding grant payments.

The EIB financing has a structure of a framework loan supporting a large number of relatively small projects in the area of local infrastructure not exceeding EUR 3 million and environmental projects up to EUR 10 million. Local infrastructure projects cover construction and development of social infrastructure in the regions (rehabilitation of schools, healthcare facilities), information society infrastructure for the public sector (ICT infrastructure and interconnections of municipal offices, e-government), and regional policy infrastructure (network for information exchange). Environmental projects are focused on the protection and rational use of water, protection of air and further development of waste management infrastructure. Other areas covered by the loan are industry (technology parks, incubators, industrial research) and tourism (restoration of cultural monuments, improve access to tourism facilities, etc.).

The loan will be administered by the Ministry of Construction and Regional Development, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Environment. Municipalities and regions will be its final beneficiaries.

The National Development Plan defines development priorities to reduce the gap between Slovakia's per capita GDP and the EU average over the period 2004-2006. The NDP envisages investments of EUR 2.7 billion, of which the EU Funds will grant EUR 1.7 billion during this period. Complementary investments will be covered by Slovakia.

Mr. Wolfgang Roth, EIB Vice-President, who signed the loan with Mr. Vladimír Tvaroska, State Secretary of the Slovak Ministry of Finance, stated: The EIB supports projects contributing to the further regional development of Slovakia and its faster economic integration into the Union. The EIB loan signed today provides an early financing of priority projects and it helps to avoid delays in drawing EU grant funds allocated to Slovakia.

The task of the EIB, the European Union's financing institution, is to contribute towards the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the Member States. Outside the Union, the EIB implements the financial components of agreements concluded under European development aid and cooperation policies.

Since 1990, the EIB has lent a total of more than EUR 25 billion in Central and Eastern Europe to finance projects fostering European integration. Loans provided for investment projects in Slovakia total more than EUR 1.6 billion since 1993, of which one third have been loans in the transport sector.