The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Republic of Belarus today endorsed the financing by EIB of key infrastructure projects in Belarus, including the upgrade of some connectivity projects between the country and its EU neighbours. The EIB activities in Belarus were discussed by the EU bank's Vice-President and Member of the Management Committee, Alexander Stubb, and the Belarus Prime Minister, Andrei Kobyakov, during the Belarus-EU Economic Forum in Luxembourg. The Forum was also attended by European Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
The Infrastructure projects that the EIB is willing to support include the upgrade of international transport corridors, municipal and environmental infrastructure, including energy water and wastewater, and climate action projects. The EIB is already involved in appraising the upgrade of a highway from Minsk to the Lithuanian border in parallel financing with the World Bank. This is an example of EIB's role in supporting connectivity between the EU and Eastern partnership countries in order to foster trade, economic growth, mobility, as well as in this case - road safety which will have a beneficial impact on the daily life of ordinary citizen. Other areas of interest include support for the private sector and SMEs, notably through local banks and local industrial groups.
EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb said: We believe that by combining forces, the EU, the EIB and other International Financing Institutions active in Belarus can make a difference and provide a boost for economic development in this important country. Today's Economic Forum and the meetings with the Belarusian Prime Minister represent a further step in the EIB commitment to support strategic investment projects in Belarus, after the Framework Agreement on cooperation signed in May this year.
Belarus Prime Minister, Andrei Kobyakov, commented: This year we have signed the Framework Agreement, which allows the European Investment Bank to carry out activities in the Republic of Belarusandlaid down the basis for our partnership. This is a landmark event in strengthening cooperation between Belarus and the Bank as well as the European Union in general. We have always expressed our interest in working with the Bank. We consider the EIB as an important and serious partner with significant investment resources, best practices and knowledge.
The Eastern Partnership, Belarus and the EIB
EIB has gained a more than ten-year experience in the Eastern Partnership region, which include six EU neighbouring countries. To date, close to EUR 8bn of loans was provided to Eastern Partnership countries for infrastructure, local private sector development and climate action projects. Belarus has been since November 2016 on the list of countries eligible for EIB financing under its external lending mandate. A Framework Agreement on Cooperation between EIB and Belarus was signed in May 2017 and ratified by the Parliament of the Republic of Belarus in July, opening the way for an increased EU and EIB engagement with Belarus.
The European Investment Bank Group (EIB), the bank of the European Union, invested €853 million overall across the Western Balkans in 2021 for sustainable development, the green transition, digitalisation and support for small businesses. Last year, the EIB invested €560 million in small and medium enterprises helping them to recover, adapt and continue to provide employment opportunities. With close to €200 million invested in the Western Balkans’ digital sector since 2020, the EIB Group became one of the major facilitators of the digital transformation in the region. As part of Team Europe, the EIB has delivered on its commitment to inject €1.7 billion to aid faster recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring green, digital and sustainable growth.
The EIB is extending a loan of EUR 110m to Belarus to finance the rehabilitation and upgrade of a 91 km long section of the M7 highway. This is part of the extended Trans-European Transport network. The project also includes the modernisation of the associated border-crossing infrastructure between Belarus and Lithuania at Kamienny Loh. The investment will increase road transport capacity and create safer driving conditions. The M7 is a strategic transport corridor, representing the shortest route from the Klaipeda port on the Baltic Sea in Lithuania through Kaunas and Vilnius to Minsk, Kyiv, and ultimately to the Black Sea.