The European Investment Bank (EIB) is working with the European Commission to grant EUR15 million fund to develop energy efficiency and sustainable energy investment programmes by European cities and regions. EIB has also approved EUR200 million loan to France's Poitou-Charentes region to support its plan to install photovoltaic panels on public, industrial and commercial buildings. The bank is in talks about projects in Barcelona, Milan and other cities.

EIB president Philippe Maystadt said, Urban areas account for as much as 70% of EU energy consumption. Most of this is related to buildings, urban transport and small firms. We believe that cities have a substantial potential to both reduce this consumption and to make significant progress in the adoption of renewable energies solutions such as solar photovoltaic technologies.

In 2008, EIB has lent more than EUR10 billion to the energy sector, with over 20% lent in the field of renewable energies. To complement this, and in-line with its policy of emphasising sustainable forms of transport, the Bank also lent in 2008 EUR 2.6 billion for urban public transport systems.

The financing of urban investments of this kind will be the main theme of 2009 EIB Forum, due to take place in Barcelona on March 12, 2009 to March 13, 2009.