The Western Balkans
The Western Balkans Region comprises Candidate countries Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia; and Potential candidate countries Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo*.
The EIB is the leading international financier in the Western Balkans and has been active in the region since 1977. Since 2006, the Bank has financed projects totalling EUR 6.4bn. In 2016, the EIB signed financing contracts amounting to EUR 427m in the Western Balkans. Total disbursements stood at EUR 592m.
While continuing its support for reconstruction and upgrading of the regional and municipal networks of basic infrastructure (transport, energy and the environment), the EIB plans to increase its assistance to the private sector and lend more in the health and education sectors in the coming years.
Cooperation with other institutions
The EIB co-finances major projects in the region with other International Financial Institutions, particularly the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank, as well as with bilateral donors.
Since 2009, the EIB, the European Commission, the Council of Europe Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have been cooperating under the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF). This provides a joint grant facility and a joint lending facility for priority investments in the region. The objective is to simplify access to credit by pooling and coordinating different sources of finance and technical assistance, with a focus on infrastructure sectors, including social infrastructure.
A further joint initiative, with the same partners and the European Investment Fund (EIF), is the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF), launched in December 2012. This aims to improve access to finance for SMEs in the region, helping to develop the local economy and regional venture capital markets, while promoting policy reforms to support access to finance through financial engineering instruments. The initial capital of the WB EDIF was EUR 145 million, which will effectively translate into over EUR 300 million of direct financing for high growth and innovative SMEs in the Western Balkans.
* This designation is without prejudice to the positions expressed by the EU Member States on Kosovo’s status and is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1244/1999 and the International Court of Justice Opinion of 22 July 2010 on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.