The President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Philippe Maystadt and the Vice-President Dario Scannapieco, in charge of the operations for the Western Balkans, welcomed the Serbian Prime Minister, Mirko Cvetkovic, at the EIB headquarters in Luxembourg on Friday, 23 October. This is the first official visit to the Bank of a Serbian Prime Minister. President Maystadt and Vice-President Scannapieco covered with the Prime Minister Cvetković all the main issues concerning the EIB activity in Serbia aimed at supporting economic recovery and helping Serbia on its path towards joining the European Union.
On the same occasion a EUR 384 million loan to the Republic of Serbia to finance the construction of a new 75 kilometer section of motorway on Pan-European Corridor X between Grabovnica and Levosoje was signed. The EIB financing will cover 40% of the total cost of this priority project for Serbia.
The promoter of the project will be Corridor X limited liability company (CXLLC), a subsidiary of Roads of Serbia, the public enterprise owned by the Republic of Serbia operating under the authority of the Ministry of Infrastructure.
This operation is the EIB’s seventh project in the road sector in Serbia since 2000 and is also the largest single loan provided by EIB in Serbia to date. The motorway section Grabovnica-Levosoje forms part of the wider Pan-European Corridor X investment programme, which also includes section E-80 towards Bulgaria currently under appraisal, extending TEN (Trans European Network) outside the European Union.
The project could potentially be considered under the Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF), jointly announced on 21st October by the European Commission, the EIB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Council of Europe Development Bank, with the endorsement of EU Member States, aiming at providing a joint grant facility and a joint lending facility to finance priority investment projects in the Western Balkans such as support to SMEs, energy efficiency and investments in the infrastructure sector, including social infrastructure.
The European Investment Bank supports the strategic and policy objectives of the European Union by granting long-term loans for economically viable investment projects. The EIB’s shareholders are the 27 EU Member States. At end-2008, the EIB’s total financing amounted to EUR 355bn.
The EIB is the largest international investor in the Western Balkans and operates with the aim of facilitating the region’s process of integration with the European Union. The Bank has been active in the region since 1977. Over the past nine years (January 2000-September 2009), the EIB has financed projects totalling EUR 3 823 million in the area on top of providing finance of EUR 1 721 million to Croatia. The Bank’s focus in the Western Balkans has been on the implementation of transport, energy, health and education projects, support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), industry and services, water and sanitation.
The final 22 km stretch of a new 87 km section of the Serbian E-80 motorway was inaugurated on Saturday. The new motorway provides a modern, high quality link between the Serbian cities of Nis and Dimitrovgrad, close to the Bulgarian border. It passes through difficult terrain including the Sicevacka Gorge, and required the construction of 87 bridges and five tunnels with state-of-the-art equipment.