The European Investment Bank is lending EUR 210 million to Autocesta Rijeka-Zagreb d.d. (ARZ), to upgrade into full motorway standard a 44 km section of the highway, between Stara Susica and Kikovica. The 146km long motorway between the main port of Rijeka on the Adriatic coast and the capital Zagreb will then be complete. In recent years, the EIB has thus helped finance the rehabilitation and/or construction of some 230 km of motorways and 450 km of state roads in Croatia.

The Rijeka-Zagreb motorway is part of the Pan-European corridor V branch B, linking Budapest (in Hungary) to Zagreb and Rijeka. Developing major trans-European transport networks, both rail and roads, is one of the main priorities of the EU transport policy. They are indeed vital for the economic and social integration of the EU, as well as for the development of Accession countries. Completing Croatia's main motorway will benefit trade, industry and tourism, by reducing journey times and operating costs, while also improving security for travellers.

On signing the loan in Rijeka on 9th March, Mr Wolfgang Roth, Vice-President of the EIB, stated: The EIB is proud to support the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Croatian transport infrastructure, particularly along one of the priority Pan-European corridors. This project will accelerate Croatia's economic development and strengthen its economic integration with the European Union.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development; research, development and innovation; trans-European transport, telecom and energy networks; industrial competitiveness; SMEs, and environmental protection. The EIB is one of the biggest financiers of Trans-european Networks in the Union and Accession countries, having signed EUR 69 billion of loans for transport TENs since 1993. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's policy for co-operation and development. Owned by its Member States, the EIB raises its funds on the capital markets (AAA-rated issuer). In 2005, it borrowed EUR 50bn and lent a total of EUR 47bn, of which EUR 42bn in the EU-25.