EIB to help Bulgaria with project funds

SOFIA (Reuters) – The European Investment Bank (EIB) agreed to extend 500 million euros a year to Bulgaria in the first two years of EU accession to help finance infrastructure projects, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday. Bulgaria signed a memorandum of understanding with the EIB under which it will be able to draw 500 million euros a year in 2007 and in 2008 and up to 700 million euros a year from 2009 to 2013 mainly to co-finance EU-backed projects. «The first priority should be take all the necessary steps to ensure a rapid and effective utilization of the EU funds,» said EIB President Philippe Maystadt after the signing. Bulgaria is set to receive over 11 billion euros in funds from the wealthy bloc through 2013 after it joins next January. It has said it would use most of the funds to meet its ambitious aim to overhaul its potholed roads, build new highways and energy links to allow a quick catchup to EU standards in 15 years.