The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a CZK 8 bn loan (some EUR 250 mio) with the Czech Finance Ministry for a 23 km section of the D8 motorway, joining the Czech capital Prague to the northern border with Germany. The project will eliminate the final missing motorway link between Prague and Dresden and is therefore a top priority on the Czech and German alignments of the pan European corridor IV linking Berlin to Istanbul. The new sections will benefit also from a EUR 62 mio (approx. CZK 1.9 bn) grant from the EU regional funds (ISPA).

The sections to be constructed, located close to the German border, include cross-border facilities built on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement between the Czech and the German authorities. The overall planning of the full link covered also environmental mitigation measures, which have been extended on both sides of the border. On the German side, the motorway will be completed by the A17 from the border to Dresden. This project is also being supported by the EU Structural Funds allocated to Germany.

The project will be built as a dual two-lane highway with design speeds of up to 120 km/h. It includes several bridges, interchanges, a service area, as well as two tunnels (Libouchec and Panenska), which will eliminate the negative impacts of the project on the environment.

Mr. Ivan Pilip, EIB Vice-President responsible for the Bank's financing operations in Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, commented: Since the start of its operations in Central and Eastern Europe the EIB strongly supported the development and upgrading of transport infrastructure, especially the extension of Pan-European Corridors to Central and Eastern Europe. Their completion is vital for the economic integration of the new Member States into the Internal Market of the Union. This project is a further step in the development of Trans European corridors on the territory of the Czech Republic and I am pleased to see that the Government has made clear to the Bank its priorities in this field.

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, the long-term financing arm of the European Union, has provided loans in the Czech Republic exceeding EUR 5.3 billion. Half of this sum has been invested in upgrading of the Czech communication infrastructure. In the new Member States of Central Europe, the EIB has lent some EUR 27 billion to projects promoting European integration since 1990. Therefore, the EIB is the most important external source of finance for Central and Eastern Europe.