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The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Republic of Serbia today signed a funding agreement for a EUR 3 million grant for the preparation of the Corridor X motorway project. The agreement was signed at the EIB’s headquarters in Luxembourg by Dario Scannapieco, Vice-President of the EIB responsible for operations in the Western Balkans, and the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, Bozidar Djelic, on the occasion of the Fifth Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) Steering Committee meeting.

The technical assistance will be provided to support: the construction of an 83.4 km motorway section in Corridor X between Nis and the border with Bulgaria at Dimitrovgrad; the construction of a 74.1 km motorway section in the Corridor between Leskovac and the FYROM border; and the completion of Sections A and B of the Belgrade Bypass.

Corridor X is one of the pan-European corridors, running between Salzburg in Austria and Thessaloniki in Greece. It passes through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, FYROM and Greece. The project will cater for international, intercity and local traffic demand. It is considered to be the core element of the transport network in the Western Balkans.

The grant will be funded from EIB and bilateral donors’ contributions to the Western Balkans Investment Framework and will be blended with loans and grants from the EIB, EBRD and World Bank as well as the Greek Government.

EIB Vice-President Scannapieco declared: “The grant agreement signed today supports one of the key projects in Serbian transport policy, which is also an essential part of the country’s overall strategy. The fact that the WBIF is supporting it with a grant, confirms the strategic priority of the project, and also the capacity of the WBIF to provide concrete help to projects on the ground by blending grants and loans”.

Deputy Prime Minister Djelic declared: “With its geographical position, the Republic of Serbia is on track for some of the most important infrastructure projects. Serbian transport policy is oriented towards linking Western Europe with other parts of the world, such as the Middle East and the Far East. Investments in Corridor X, in both roads and railways, are therefore in the common interest of the EU and Serbia, as well as other Western Balkan nations. The grant agreement we have signed today is an important step that will lead us towards more effective realisation of common strategic priorities. Serbia supports the Western Balkan Investment Framework as a useful tool for infrastructure development and encourages its enhancement with the aim of a better blending of loans, grants and national funds”.

The WBIF was launched two years ago by the European Commission, the EIB, the EBRD, the Council of Europe Development Bank and several bilateral donors, the majority of which are EU Member States, to finance priority projects in the Western Balkans. The WBIF focuses on key socio-economic sectors including energy, the environment, transport, social infrastructure and private sector development. Its objective is to pool and coordinate different sources of finance and leverage loans with grants for priority projects in the countries of the region. On the occasion of its fifth meeting the WBIF Steering Committee approved 22 new grant operations, benefiting from EUR 59 million worth of grants from WBIF donors. It is expected that the same projects will receive loans of EUR 1.1 billion from the partner IFIs and bilateral financiers participating in the initiative.