The Board of Directors of the European Investment Bank meeting on 12th March approved more than EUR 9 billion of new loans to support long-term investment in 28 projects across the European Union, the Western Balkans, the Caucasus region, and South America. Agreed projects include improvements to housing, urban infrastructure, education and research facilities; investment in advanced R&D on vehicle efficiency and agriculture; and initiatives to enhance access to finance by SMEs.

The Board approved improvements to congested London Underground stations and an increase in the number of cycle paths in the city.

The meeting gave the green light to a project in Italy to conduct R&D on fuel-efficient vehicles, and to another in Spain and Portugal to develop advanced plant protection and agricultural nutrition products.

The EIB approved a wide-ranging plan to upgrade schools across Italy and loans to develop scientific research and teaching facilities at Oxford University. It decided to finance investment in low-emission housing, education and childcare facilities, and transport in the Swedish city of Norrkoping.

The EU Bank agreed loans for the support of SMEs and Mid-Cap companies in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and, outside the EU, in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Brazil. It also approved financing for improvements to roads and railways in France, Germany, Poland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In total, the EIB’s Board of Directors approved loans worth EUR 9.3 billion. This included EUR 3.5 billion for strategic infrastructure EUR 1.9 billion for the knowledge economy and research investment and EUR 291 million for resources efficiency projects. Corporate investment by SMEs and mid-cap companies will also benefit from new loans worth EUR 3.6 billion to be managed by local banks and financial institutions.

The March meeting of the bank’s shareholders, all 28 EU Member States, as well as the European Commission, also discussed recent developments relating to the bank’s expected role in implementing the Investment Plan for Europe.

Loan approvals by the board represent a key milestone prior to final negotiation, where loan amounts may change.