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In an action likely to test the effectiveness of environmental guarantees in EU law for the EU’s newest member states, Friends of the Earth Slovakia and CEE Bankwatch Network say the Slovak government is violating the terms of a €50 million loan agreed in June, and the EIB therefore has a duty to suspend the loan.
They say the chosen route for the motorway involves a bridge over a densely populated residential area in Povazska Bystrica, which was strongly criticised in the project’s environmental impact assessment, yet alternative routes to by-pass the area were not considered. They also say consultation with local communities was badly handled, with no compensation offered to residents living next to the proposed route.
In addition, a legal challenge to the motorway brought by 15 citizens and two local NGOs is still in progress. Ivan Lesay of Bankwatch says: “The Slovak government has not informed the Commission about the lawsuit, even though EIB contract obliges the borrower to ‘promptly inform the Bank of any material litigation that affects the project’. We suspect this is because the government wants money from the Cohesion Fund.”
FoE and Bankwatch have therefore written to the EIB president Philipp Maystadt asking him to suspend financing of the project until he is satisfied that EU law is not being violated.
This news story is taken from the September 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.