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The European Investment Bank is extending a loan of EUR 110m to Belarus to finance the rehabilitation and upgrade of a 91 km long section of the M7 highway. This is part of the extended Trans-European Transport network. The project also includes the modernisation of the associated border-crossing infrastructure between Belarus and Lithuania at Kamienny Loh. The investment will increase road transport capacity and create safer driving conditions. The M7 is a strategic transport corridor, representing the shortest route from the Klaipeda port on the Baltic Sea in Lithuania through Kaunas and Vilnius to Minsk, Kyiv, and ultimately to the Black Sea.
The EIB is also lending EUR 66m to improve access to clean and affordable potable water and adequate sanitation services for some 500,000 households, improve the quality of natural waters by reducing pollution and untreated effluents, and improve water use efficiency. This will have positive impacts on the everyday life and health of the Belarusian population. A grant from the Eastern Partnership Technical Assistance Trust Fund (EPTATF) will facilitate the implementation of this project
EIB Vice-President Vazil Hudák commented: “These projects, backed by our EU partners and international financial institutions, follow the launch of EIB lending operations in Belarus last year. They will have a significant impact on the quality of life of Belarus’ citizens in terms of better water services and improved transport connectivity. Both investments will strengthen the country’s competitiveness and economic development.
Head of EU Delegation in Belarus Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin noted: "It seems that only a few weeks ago - in fact, it was in November last year - we witnessed the signing of the first ever loan agreements between the European Investment Bank and the Republic of Belarus. It is a great honour for me to witness the next step in the development of such cooperation. The European Investment Bank, in partnership with the Eastern Partnership Technical Assistance Trust Fund, supports sectors and projects that both the European Union and Belarus consider essential in fostering investment in social and economic infrastructure, public and private sector development and climate action."
Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Rumas said: "I would like to confirm our readiness to develop cooperation in a number of sectors - energy efficiency, the development of the railway potential, the utilities sector, healthcare. We have many spheres that fall within the mandate of the EIB to work in Belarus, and we could also begin work on new projects."
Both loans are covered by the European Union’s Comprehensive Guarantee and bring the EIB lending commitment in Belarus to EUR 335m. Last year the EU bank signed operations supporting the water sector and projects implemented by small and medium enterprises.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union's bank. It is the long-term lending institution of the EU and is the only bank owned by and representing the interests of the European Union Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investments in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EIB works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy.
As the largest multilateral borrower and lender by volume, the EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects which contribute to furthering EU policy objectives. More than 90% of EIB activity is focused on Europe but it also supports the EU's external and development policies.
The Eastern Partnership Technical Assistance Trust Fund (EPTATF) is a multi-purpose and multi-sector funding instrument for specific technical support in the Eastern Partnership countries. It provides these countries with know-how and resources to improve capacity in project preparation and implementation, which facilitates the mobilisation of financing for EIB-supported investments. The EPTATF provides high added value because better project preparation increases the bankability of projects and improves the development impact of investments in the beneficiary countries.
Photo courtesy of BelTA