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European Investment Bank (EIB)

Set up by the Treaty of Rome, the European Investment Bank is the European Union's financial institution. Its task is to contribute to economic, social and territorial cohesion through the balanced development of the EU territory.

The EIB's shareholders are the 27 Member States of the European Union. The bank is supervised by the Board of Governors, which comprises the 27 Finance Ministers. It has legal personality and is financially independent. It provides long-term financing for practical projects, the economic, technical, environmental and financial viability of which is guaranteed. It grants loans essentially from resources borrowed on capital markets, to which is added shareholders' equity. Between 1994 and 1999 the transport, telecommunications, energy, water, education and training sectors were the main beneficiaries.

In March 2000 the Lisbon European Council called for a strengthening of support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The EIB Group, which comprises the EIB and the European Investment Fund (EIF), was thus created with a view to boosting European economic competitiveness. Through the Innovation 2000 initiative, it fosters entrepreneurship, innovation and the optimal utilisation of human resources by granting SMEs medium-term loans and bank guarantees, and by financing venture capital activities.

Outside the European Union the EIB supports the pre-accession strategies of the candidate countries and of the Western Balkans. It also manages the financial dimension of the agreements concluded under European development aid and cooperation policies. In this connection, it is active in the Mediterranean countries and in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

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