Romania’s picturesque city of Sibiu is borrowing €15mn from the EBRD to help prepare transport infrastructure that will benefit business, tourists and residents. The loan is very timely, as Sibiu prepares to be the European Capital of Culture – a designation it will share with Luxembourg – in 2007.
Major urban regeneration in the city’s historic centre has recently been undertaken. The EBRD loan will help improve roads and rehabilitate the Railway Station Square, which will become the main gateway to the city. A further component will finance architectural lighting for historic buildings.
Technical cooperation funds will be provided by Austria, Luxembourg and the US to help the city prepare and manage projects, and support the commercialisation of its transport company, including how to promote greater private-sector involvement in this sector. The project is designed to help municipalities prepare and access future European funding for infrastructure.

For the past decade the EBRD has worked closely with local authorities to fund investments in the water and wastewater sector. This latest loan builds on the bank’s elationship with Sibiu; last year the city’s water company received an EBRD loan to co-finance ISPA investments.

Thomas Maier, EBRD director of municipal and environmental infrastructure, says the bank is now looking to develop the country’s urban transport sector. This is the EBRD’s second urban transport project in Romania, and comes just two weeks after the first was signed in Arad.

Located in central Romania, Sibiu benefits from its traditional ties with Germany and foreign investment that is helping to support its already growing economy, driven by industries ranging from the production of construction materials, electronic components and automobile parts, to tourism. Maier adds that Sibiu is a success story, which has been driven by the mayor and his team.

Klaus Werner Johannis, mayor of Sibiu, says the city’s strong economy is a result of good local businesses and growing foreign investment, and to boost this further, we need to improve local transport infrastructure. The EBRD has a good reputation for working with local municipalities in Romania, and we want to build on that to improve our city’s urban transport infrastructure, he adds.

The EBRD is the largest investor in Romania having committed around €2.5bn in over 130 projects.