The EIB's Board of Directors approved on 11 March 2010, under new contractual conditions, the first disbursement of up to EUR 10 million for the Gazela Bridge Rehabilitation project in Serbia.

The decision was taken at the request of the Serbian authorities and in consideration of the emergency situation and public safety concerns linked to the rapid deterioration of the physical condition of the Gazela Bridge, as well as the related socio-economic impacts. This follows the recent decision by the EBRD to disburse funds for the financing of the bridge access roads.

The provision of the EUR 33 million EIB loan initially signed in 2007 has been delayed because of a number of unresolved issues related to the resettlement of the families who were located under the bridge. Both the EIB and the EBRD have been closely monitoring the resettlement process undertaken to date by the Serbian authorities, with the conclusion that while there have been achievements, significant outstanding issues remain. These include the provision of sustainable housing solutions for Project Affected People and the restoration of their livelihoods.

The EIB Board has therefore agreed to limit the first disbursement of EIB funds to up to EUR 10 million to enable the start of the urgent rehabilitation works. Subsequent disbursements will be conditional upon the implementation of the resettlement as agreed between the Serbian Authorities and the EIB, with a further contractual condition to repay the loan if the specific requirements are not met by the year end.

At the same time the EIB and the EBRD will provide technical assistance support to Serbia to enable the authorities to further define and implement agreed actions towards the affected people.

The Serbian authorities have formally confirmed their commitment to fulfil their responsibilities towards the resettled families and to continue working with the EIB and the EBRD to achieve this goal.