The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 51m to Slovenia’s motorway company DARS to finance the introduction of an electronic tolling system for vehicles above 3.5t using the country’s motorway network. This is the EIB’s first direct transaction in Slovenia under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) as part of the Investment Plan for Europe (Juncker Plan) backed by the EU budget portfolio guarantee.
The loan was announced to coincide with the Joint Investment Conference held in Ljubljana by the European Investment Bank, the European Commission and Bank of Slovenia.
The DARS loan
The new tolling infrastructure that Slovenia’s motorway company DARS plans to introduce will replace physical barriers with free-flow, remote charging digital infrastructure on the entire Slovenian motorway network. Roads, including motorways, are the most important mode of transport in Slovenia accounting for 80% of inland transport. The new system uses microwave tags inside vehicles to record when they pass under microwave receivers mounted on overhead gantries on each section of a tolled road. Thanks to the upgrade, the existing physical toll stations will be dismantled, easing traffic flow.
This project represents a continuation of the EU bank’s fruitful cooperation with DARS. To date, the EIB has granted loans to this company amounting to some EUR 1.5bn, contributing significantly to the construction and maintenance of the country’s motorway network and fostering economic growth not just in Slovenia but also in its neighbouring countries.
The EIB loan will benefit from the EFSI guarantee and will possibly catalyse further financial support from the Slovenian National Promotional Bank (SID banka) as well as commercial banks.
European Commissioner Violeta Bulc said: "It is great news that on the day we have an important investment conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia receives its first financing for infrastructure under the Juncker Plan. Thanks to support from the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the Slovenian motorway company DARS will implement a modern electronic tolling system for heavy vehicles. This project will help to ease traffic flow in Slovenia which is good news for all travellers."
EIB Vice-President Vazil Hudák commented: “The Bank is supporting innovation through the introduction of a new motorway tolling system, enabling a smoother and more ecological flow of transport on Slovenia’s motorways based on the “user pays” and “polluter pays” principles. This is facilitated by an EU budget guarantee provided under the Investment Plan for Europe aimed at reducing investment gaps – one of the main challenges for the EU economy.” He added: “At the same time, the EIB Group’s economic survey shows that, after some difficult years, Slovenia is enjoying solid economic growth, driven by domestic private consumption and renewed investment, which is particularly encouraging.”
The CEO of DARS Tomaž Vidic stated: “Today we are demonstrating once again that our company is consistently among the first in Slovenia to follow EU development trends. This means obtaining considerable contributions from European funds, following innovative ways of financing or, in this case, benefiting from an EU budget portfolio guarantee. This shows that our long-lasting and solid cooperation with EIB has borne fruit today. Financing of EUR 51m has been provided for our most important project of the last few years – the new tolling system called DarsGo, which will become operational on 1 April 2018.”
16 studeni 2017