The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term investment arm of the European Union, is lending EUR 60 million to Croatian Roads Ltd for the construction of a 36 km urban road by-pass near the city of Split, covering a largely urbanized area near the Dalmatian coast. The by-pass will alleviate traffic congestion around Split and the immediate coastal area as well as provide better access to one of the country's major airports. The by-pass is part of the E65 road from Rijeka to Dubrovnik.

The Split by-pass will reduce traffic congestion, help users save time, and contribute to reducing vehicle operating costs and accidents. It will also reduce the population's exposure to unwanted side effects of heavy traffic such as pollutant emissions, noise and spatial effects. Croatia's geographical position makes it a key transit country, and good means of communication are also important for tourism and regional development. The EIB's involvement in the project will greatly benefit the country as it offers long-term funds at favourable conditions that are not readily available.

The loan contract has been signed in Split on July 20th 2005

Croatian Road Ltd. is wholly owned by the Croatian state. Its task is to prepare studies and plans for Main Roads and motorways, to pursue feasibility studies, Environmental Impact Assessments, construct operate and maintain the Main Roads. Croatian Road Ltd. has at its disposal competent engineers qualified to manage road project design and implementation, and with experience in large modernization projects with international tendering and Western standards. All the construction works financed by the EIB will be advertised under international tendering procedures.

Croatia's transport network consists of some 28,100 km of roads (including 7,400 km of state roads, which include 600 km of motorways and expressways, 10,500 km of county roads, and 10,200 km of local roads). During the decade of conflict, essential maintenance and rehabilitation of the road network was seriously neglected, resulting in the present unsatisfactory state of large parts of the network. Recent EIB operations in the Croatian road sector have sought to address this by financing the rehabilitation of over 200km of motorways and 450km of state roads.

Croatia is crossed by three Pan-European Transport Corridors: Corridor V Branch B (Rijeka - Zagreb - Budapest) and Branch C (Ploče - Sarajevo - Osijek - Budapest) and Corridor X (Salzburg - Ljubljana - Zagreb - Beograd - Nis - Skopje - Veles - Thessaloniki). Additional roads, comprising the E-road network, such as the E65 along the Adriatic coast, also play an important role and provide access to the Corridors, particularly for international tourist traffic.

The EIB was set up in 1958 to finance investment furthering EU integration. It lends for regional development, infrastructure, energy, industry and environment. About 10 percent of the EIB's total lending of EUR 43 billion (2004) takes place outside the EU. In these cases, the Bank contributes to the European co-operation and development policy in some 130 countries in the Balkans, the Mediterranean region, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, Asia and Latin America.