The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing EUR 15 million for the modernisation and extension of the water infrastructure in the city of Plzen. The loan is granted to the City of Plzen, which is the first Czech municipality other than Prague to receive a direct EIB loan.

The EIB loan will support the upgrading of water and wastewater services for Plzen's 170 thousand inhabitants. The works will cover the modernisation and extension of drinking water networks and reservoirs, thus improving the supply of drinking water. In addition, the project provides for the construction of storm-water retention and drainage facilities and an extension of the city's sewerage networks. The project will be co-financed by European Commission's Cohesion Fund grants.

As a result of the protection of water resources and a reduction in soil and water pollution in the city and the neighbouring areas, the investment will help to implement EU environmental standards in Plzen, the major industrial centre of Western Bohemia.

Mr. Ivan Pilip, the EIB Vice-President responsible for the Bank's operations in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland commented: "I warmly welcome the fact that through the direct loan signed today Plzen has direct access to EIB funding under favourable terms for the improvement of the services provided to its citizens. The investments co-financed by the EIB contribute to the improvement of the environment in the City of Plzen and support the commitment of the Czech Republic to implementing EU environmental standards".

The EIB, as the European Union's long-term financing institution, has provided approximately EUR 5.5 billion for projects furthering European integration in the Czech Republic since 1990. The EIB has already provided EUR 210 million in the Plzen region for the construction of a motorway by-pass that contributes to improved environmental conditions in the city and a smoother and safer transport network in the region.

The EIB plays an important role in providing funds needed for the upgrading of environmental protection standards in the new Member States, notably to help them achieve EU environmental standards in terms of air quality, drinking and wastewater management, and solid urban and industrial waste processing.