EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova took part in the Thessaloniki Regional Forum, which has joined forces with Greek House Davos this year to deliver this high-level virtual Balkans Summit for 2021, focusing on fostering regional cooperation in the post-COVID era.

During her keynote speech at the panel discussion ‘Working together to facilitate post-COVID economic recovery: How can innovative ecosystems, public-private partnerships and bold investments boost the region’s competitiveness?’, EIB Vice-President Pavlova stressed the importance of cooperation not only in case of crisis but for overall economic development.

“I believe the EU should be a key player of the post-crisis economic recovery to ensure better coordination among public and private players on a global and regional level, but also in terms of mobilising sufficient resources not only to show – but more importantly – to lead the new growth strategy”, Ms Pavlova stated.

She underlined Team Europe’s substantial support of €3.3 billion for the Western Balkan region in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the EIB’s commitment to deliver €1.7 billion. However, to accelerate the recovery from the pandemic and facilitate the transition towards a new, greener economic model, more targeted and long-term support is needed for the whole region.

“The region will have to make a massive leap in the direction of digitalisation, energy efficiency, green and just transition in order to stay relevant in the post-COVID era. As the EU bank, the EIB stands ready to support its local partners in accessing the funds available and move forward with a just transition. We have already started financing projects in sustainable connectivity in the region and will continue scaling up our efforts in delivering long-term benefits for people across the region”, she added.

She referred to the European Commission’s Economic and Investment Plan, the Green Agenda and other important initiatives in the region that can help advance these processes. The EU bank will continue encouraging cooperation with all key stakeholders in the region as well as promoting projects that involve collaboration between different sectors and countries such as public-private, cross-sectoral and transboundary investments.

“We believe that through all these initiatives and our financial and technical support, we act as a driving force in implementing new sustainable solutions that are largely based on innovation and digitalisation. However, success depends on the combined efforts of all partners and is the result of our synergies and well-targeted approach”, VP Pavlova concluded.

The Thessaloniki Regional Forum aims to bring together leading political figures, intellectuals, academics and distinguished representatives from the public and private sectors and civil society in the Balkans in order to serve as a high-level platform fostering an open and progressive regional political dialogue.