A Study by the European Investment Bank on Basic Infrastructure Investment in South-Eastern Europe proposes a first list of potential infrastructure projects identified by the Bank's Balkan Task Force which fulfil the Bank's eligibility criteria. Their implementation would cost in total some EUR 6 billion and require at least three to five years. The EIB is proposing to take the lead in the financing of infrastructure in the region.

This week the EIB's Balkan Task Force is conducting a further mission in the region, in order to prioritise specific basic infrastructure projects identified in the study, especially those with a regional dimension.

The study was presented today in Washington by EIB-President Sir Brian Unwin, who is attending the High Level Steering Group on Economic Coordination in South-Eastern Europe. The EIB is already playing a leading role in financing infrastructure reconstruction in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the FYR of Macedonia and Romania, and subject to the necessary green light from the EU, is ready to begin operations in Kosovo itself. The study focuses on roads, railways, ports, airports, electricity, oil, gas, telecommunications and the water sector, including the Danube Waterway, and is the culmination of four months of work by the EIB's Balkan Task Force to assess infrastructure needs in the region.

Commenting on the Balkan situation, Sir Brian Unwin said: 'Since investment needs are enormous and financial resources extremely scarce, it is crucial to establish investment priorities very clearly, in close cooperation with the governments of the countries concerned , and furthermore to apply rigorous appraisal criteria and insist on an adequate economic return. I believe that on the basis of comparative advantage the EIB should take the infrastructure lead, and we are fully prepared to do this.'

To underline the strong commitment to future reconstruction, EIB-President Sir Brian Unwin attended the Ministerial Meeting in Cologne on June 10, 1999 and co-signed the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe. The EIB set up a Balkan Task Force in June 1999 to evaluate the investment needs and identify priority projects in post-war South-East-Europe. The Task Force is a team of bankers, economists and engineers experienced in the identification of transport, telecommunications, energy and the environmental infrastructures that need to be rebuilt as a matter of priority and for which the EIB can provide long-term finance at short notice. The Task Force is also coordinating EIB activities in the region with the European Commission, the Stability Pact Coordinator and the other international financing institutions working for the reconstruction of the Balkans.