The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending SKK 1.4 billion (approx. EUR 39 million) for upgrading mainly transport infrastructure in the Koaice Self-governing Region. This is the second direct EIB loan provided to a regional administration in Slovakia, after the Bank has granted a similar loan to the Preaov Self-governing Region earlier this year.

The loan will part-finance priority projects of the 2005-2009 investment programme of the Koaice Region. Selected projects in the area of transport will help rehabilitate over 100 road sections and bridges on the regional network (e.g. road between Michalovce - Zemplínská `írava - Poruba pod Vihorlatom and bridge in Prakovce). By modernising the Class II and III roads and improving their safety, the loan will allow the Region to deal with increasing traffic and enhance its growth prospects. The EIB funds will be also used to finance the reconstruction of cultural facilities (e.g. Eastern Slovakian Museum), which will increase the Region's attractiveness for tourists.

Mr. Ivan Pilip, the EIB Vice-President responsible for the Bank's operations in Slovakia, who signed the loan contract stated: With the loan provided to the Koaice Self-governing Region the EIB has confirmed the priority it gives to lending to local authorities in Slovakia. By providing direct access to EIB funds on favourable terms, particularly for upgrading of regional transport infrastructure, the Bank will assist the regional authorities in satisfying local investment needs and strengthening regional competitiveness.

The EIB, as the European Union's long-term financing institution, has provided over EUR 2 billion for projects furthering European integration in Slovakia since 1990. Almost one third of the EIB lending extended in Slovakia has gone to the transport sector. Major projects co-financed by the EIB in this field include the construction of the Apollo Bridge over the Danube River in Bratislava, upgrading of track, rolling stock and telecommunications for national railways and implementation of the Slovak Motorway and Expressway Programme. The Bank also co-finances projects with foreign investors (e.g. extension of the Volkswagen plant in Bratislava) and undertakings improving the environment (water treatment and development of the sewage network, solid waste treatment, etc.)

Since the start of its operations in the new Member States and Acceding Countries - Bulgaria and Romania - in 1990, the EIB has provided more than EUR 37 billion for projects fostering European integration in these countries. As such, the EIB is the most significant external source of financing in this region.