The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a new loan of EUR 30 million for the construction of a new 25.8km section of the D1 motorway between Mengusovce and Jánovce in Eastern Slovakia. The new motorway will form part of the most significant road connection linking the West to the East Bratislava-Zilina-Kosice-Uzgorod section on Pan-European Corridor No V.

The loan signed today represents part of the framework loan of EUR 350 million approved by the Bank in 2002 for the implementation of the Slovak Motorway and Expressway Programme under the Slovak Government's Priority Investment Programme. The first loan of EUR 68 million in this regard was granted by the EIB in November 2003 for three road construction projects on the D1 motorway and the R1 expressway.

Construction of the Mengusovce-Jánovce motorway will be co-financed by the EU Cohesion Fund. The project includes a number of bridges and one two-tube tunnel (Bôrik) with a length of 995m. The new motorway will substantially improve transport safety, increase road capacity between Svit and Poprad and provide a better connection to Slovakia's most attractive tourist destinations: the High Tatras and the Low Tatras.

Mr Ivan Pilip, EIB Vice-President responsible for financial operations in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland, commented: The EIB firmly supports the extension and upgrading of the motorway network in the new Member States, especially along priority Pan-European Corridors that are significant for fostering integration of these countries into the EU Single Market. The new motorway will improve transport links between the two major Slovak cities of Bratislava and Kosice. It will make Eastern Slovakia more accessible, investing it with greater economic competitiveness, which will have positive implications for economic growth in this less favoured region.

The prime objective 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 by financing sound investment. Outside the Union, the EIB supports European development aid and cooperation policies.

Since 1990, the EIB has lent a total of some EUR 27 billion in Central and Eastern Europe to finance projects fostering European integration, of which approximately 50% has been invested in transport. Loans provided for investment projects in Slovakia run to more than EUR 1.67 billion since 1993, of which almost one third (EUR 515 million) have been loans for the transport sector. Major projects co-financed by the EIB in this field include the construction of Kosicka Bridge over the Danube river in Bratislava, upgrading of track, rolling stock and telecommunications for national railways and the aforementioned Slovak Motorway and Expressway Programme.