The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 40 million for smaller regional infrastructure projects focused on the rehabilitation of local roads and upgrading of public transport, health and industrial facilities in southern Moravia.

The loan will finance the implementation of priority projects included in the 2005 - 2009 Investment Programme of the Region of South Moravia. This programme covers investments already approved by the Regional Council as well as projects that will be specified and approved later. Selected projects in the area of transport will help modernise and rehabilitate roads with a regional character and construct new links (e.g. to Oslavany and Moravsky Pisek). Upgrading of the road network will help the region to cope with the increased traffic after the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union. The improved accessibility and transport safety as well as the reduction of travel times will have positive implications for trade, industry and tourism developments. The EIB funds will be also used to finance the modernisation of the Znojmo and Breclav Hospitals and the extension of the technical park in the region's capital Brno. The majority of the projects will be co-financed by the EU Structural Funds.

Mr Ivan Pilip, the EIB Vice-President responsible for the Bank's operations in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia stated: The EIB loan signed today will provide the Region of South Moravia with direct access to EIB funds on favourable terms. This will assist the regional authorities in upgrading transport, health and industrial infrastructure and help the region to benefit more from its location bordering on Austria and Slovakia by strengthening its competitiveness.

Since 1990 the EIB, as the European Union's long-term financing institution, has provided more than EUR 6 billion for projects furthering European integration in the Czech Republic. The loan signed with the South Moravian Region is already the third (after those to the Pardubice and Moravian-Silesian Regions) provided to regional authorities in the Czech Republic.

Direct lending to Czech regions and municipalities is the EIB's priority as it provides the respective authorities with the funds needed for the implementation of projects that are important for the deepening of their integration, particularly into the EU Single Market, and for the application of European standards, especially in the area of the environment.