The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 140 million for investment in research, development and innovation (RDI) carried out by the Stora Enso Group, the world's largest producer of forestry products.

The EIB funds will support the Stora Enso Group's investment in research activities and technological development between 2005 and 2008 in its pulp and paper mills as well as in dedicated research centres in Imatra (Finland) and Karlstad and Falun (Sweden).

The loan will contribute to strengthening the Group's technological leadership in the sector, particularly for wood-based fibre products such as paper, board, pulp and timber. The loan marks a continuation of the EIB's successful cooperation with Stora Enso, which has also included the Group's operations in Brazil.

It is in line with the EIB's lending priority of supporting the implementation of the EU's Lisbon Strategy, which aims to create a more competitive European economy based on knowledge and innovation. The EIB, whose financing contributes to furthering the policies of the EU, has so far lent some EUR 45.7 billion to finance investment projects contributing to the Lisbon Agenda.

Mr Sauli Niinistö, EIB Vice-President, commented: I very much welcome this continuation of the EIB's cooperation with the Stora Enso Group, particularly in view of its contribution to the implementation of the Lisbon process. The EIB supports RDI projects in the Union as they are important in terms of strengthening the competitiveness of the European economy and creating new high quality job opportunities.

The EIB, the EU´s bank promoting European objectives, provided over the past five years (2002-2006) loans amounting to some EUR 3.8 billion in Finland and EUR 2.8 billion in Sweden. Of these amounts, approximately EUR 1.8 billion represented lending supporting implementation of the Lisbon Agenda in Finland and EUR 1.2 billion in Sweden.