The European Investment Bank's Board of Directors has offered a credit facility of up to EUR 300 million towards the construction of the best performing telescope in the world. The European Southern Observatory's planned 42-metre in diameter European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is designed to provide new insight into objects in our solar system and the first-ever images of earth-like planets around other stars and distant objects created at the birth of our universe helping scientists answer fundamental questions regarding planet formation and evolution, the planetary environment of other stars, and the study of black holes and other astronomical phenomena. ESO is an intergovernmental organisation set up in 1962 that is based in Garching, near Munich, Germany, and which operates a world-leading suite of telescopes in Chile.

The E-ELT is one of the flagship projects identified by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures in 2006 as being of pan-European interest for the continent's scientists and researchers. EIB plans to part finance its loan using a special facility for research infrastructures set up in partnership with the European Commission's 7th research framework programme. Provided the ESO Council approves the construction phase of this project and accepts the terms of the credit facility, the EIB finance could cover up to 30 percent of the total project cost, estimated at around EUR 1 billion, and help ensure the full implementation of the project targeting the start of operations in 2018.

As the Bank of the European Union, the EIB Group uses its special expertise and resources to make a difference to the future of Europe and its partners by supporting sound investments that further EU policy goals. It has financed a number of important research infrastructure in recent years, including the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland.