On the occasion of his visit to Belgrade, the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Philippe Maystadt, has signed today a EUR 40 million loan aimed at the construction of the road bypass for the Serbian capital. The Serbian government was represented by the Minister of Finance Diana Dragutinovic and by Mr Zoran Drobnjak, General Manager of the Roads of Serbia, the beneficiary.

 The operation represents the second tranche of a total EUR 180 million facility approved by the EIB in 2007 aimed at financing the realisation of 20 kilometres of two-lane bypass roads and 27 kilometers of four-lane motorway located in the West and in the South of the Serbian capital. The section B5 of the Belgrade bypass signed today goes from Orlovaca to Avala and is 5.4 km long. The full bypass, once completed, will have a capacity of some 60 000 vehicles per day and will involve 48 new bridges and five interchanges, improving the traffic safety and reducing congestion on the existing urban road network, in particular on E70/E75 highway crossing Belgrade. The loan contract for the first EUR 60 million tranche was signed in 2007. The loan contract for the remaining tranche of EUR 80 million is expected to be signed in 2011.

The Belgrade bypass is a section of the Pan-European Corridor X, linking Salzburg and Thessaloniki via Ljubljana-Beograd- Zagreb-Nis-Skopje and Veles. The extension and rehabilitation of TEN-t (Trans-European Networks transport) is one of the main targets of the EIB activity as it is crucial for the successful integration of Potential Candidate Countries, like Serbia, in the European Union.

 "The EIB, together with the other European institutions, strongly supports Serbia in its path towards the EU", stated the EIB President Maystadt, "Infrastructures are essential to the modernisation process of the country and the Belgrade bypass represents a fundamental junction of Corridor X".
Notes to editors:

The EIB is the Bank of the European Union. Established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, it operates in the 27 EU Member States and is active in more than 130 other Countries. Outside the EU, the Bank supports projects that contribute to economic development in Countries that have signed association or cooperation Agreements with the EU.
The EIB has been active in the Western Balkans since 1977 and is today the largest international financier in the region. Over the past ten years, it has financed projects totalling over EUR 6 billion in the area. The Bank's focus in the Western Balkans, including Serbia, has been on the implementation of transport, energy, health and education projects, support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local authorities, industry and services, water and sanitation.

Since 2001, the EIB has extended EUR 2.7 billion in favour of projects located in Serbia.