EIB pledge for the Western Balkans: Investments in competitiveness, innovation and climate are top priorities
8 July 2019
Competitiveness, innovation and climate are top priorities for the EIB in the Western Balkans. Roads, railways, water treatment plants, schools, hospitals and SMEs also supported by the EU Bank;
Western Balkans Investment Framework expands from connectivity to include environment, social economy, digital agenda and a new Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, which the EIB is committed to continue supporting;
EUR 11 million for the first urban regeneration project in the region for the EIB;
With EUR 8 billion invested in the Western Balkans since 2008 (EUR 1.1 billion in 2018 alone) EIB involvement mobilized at least EUR 16 billion in investments.
The European Investment Bank remains committed to the economic and social development of the Western Balkans and plans to grow its investment portfolio in the region, prioritizing competitiveness, innovation and climate projects, announced the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Werner Hoyer at the Poznań Summit for the Western Balkans today.
The EU Bank will continue to support projects allowing increased competitiveness of the Western Balkan economies, which improve transport connectivity links, but also better access to finance for entrepreneurs. Investment in climate action will mean the EIB as Europe`s Climate Bank, will sustain the region’s energy transition to modernize infrastructure, reduce emissions, and diversify the energy mix to increase the security of supply.
President Hoyer said addressing the Summit in the Polish city of Poznań, “The EIB Group accompanied Poland’s success story by investing €64.2 billion for the benefit of its citizens since 1990. The EU bank stands ready to replicate such success in the Western Balkans. Our activities are designed to support the implementation of the EU’s enlargement policy and we stand ready to do more in the region with a wide range of different finance and advisory products”.
Western Balkans Investment Framework expands and grows
At the summit margins, the EIB signed a new agreement in support of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) accepting a contribution from Poland of EUR 500,000 to a Joint Fund co-managed by the EIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The WBIF allows the EIB to channel additional support into the region and promote cohesion both within the region and within the European Union.
The Western Balkan Investment Framework blends EIB loans with grants and crowding in private investment. To date it has mobilised EUR 18 billion of investment. In the future, it will expand from transport and energy connectivity to provide support for the environment, the social economy, the digital agenda and a new Green Agenda for the Western Balkans.
New Project Signed in Poznan – Urban regeneration of Tirana
During the Summit, the EIB signed its first urban regeneration project in the Western Balkans investing EUR 11 million in the Lana river project in the Albanian capital city of Tirana. The project will bring flood protection, public transport and climate change resilience for 65,000 citizens of the capital. A portion of the investment - grant of EUR 2.4 million - comes from the EIB’s Economic Resilience Initiative (ERI).
President Hoyer said, “Projects like this support towns and cities that are the engines of the Western Balkans’ economies and act as catalysts for creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship throughout the region”.
On 4 July in Belgrade, the EIB signed another similar project under ERI, a EUR 1.1 million grant with the City of Belgrade to support improvements in water and sewage system in Serbia’s capital.
“We look forward to working with our partners in the Western Balkans to bring tangible improvements in the quality of life for all the citizens in the region” concluded the EIB President.
Intensifying support for THE Economic Resilience Initiative
ERI supports countries in the EU’s Southern Neighborhood and Western Balkans to tackle migration and other challenges by stimulating investments in jobs creation and services like energy, transport, water, sanitation and education. In doing so, the EIB initiative increases the economic and social resilience of target countries and helps them to better deal with future crises and shocks, while maintaining stronger growth.
Apart from receiving guarantees from the European Commission, ERI benefits from individual donations of the EU member states including Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.
About EIB in the Western Balkans:
The EIB is the lead financier in the Western Balkans; the bank invested EUR 8 billion in the region since 2008, mobilizing at least EUR 16 billion in investments. Only in 2018, the EU bank support reached over 1000 SMEs, sustaining over 59,000 jobs. In 2018 alone, EIB committed EUR 1.1 billion to the region.
About Economic Resilience Initiative:
The EIB’s Economic Resilience Initiative (ERI) was requested by the 28 EU member states in 2016 as a part of the EU response to the challenges posed by forced displacement and migration and as a follow up to the London Syria Conference in 2016.
ERI focuses on the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro and Serbia) and Europe’s Southern Neighborhood (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia). The Initiative aims to rapidly mobilise additional financing in support of growth, vital infrastructure and social cohesion. Enhancing the prospects for more resilient and inclusive growth - and creating sustainable employment opportunities, particularly for young people and women - is crucial to improve living standards.
The Economic Resilience Initiative provides a comprehensive package of support, offering a broad range of products to meet the specific needs of private and public sector clients with private sector at the core of the ERI.
EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova, responsible for operations in the Western Balkans, met with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić today in an online meeting to discuss the EIB’s investment plans for Serbia. The EIB reaffirmed its commitment to help the region in its COVID-19 recovery and to support private sector development and the region’s transformation into a greener and more digitalised economy.
The EIB has unlocked €340 million for the construction of the 36-kilometre section of road between Poprikuše and Medakovo on Corridor Vc, key connectivity infrastructure in the country that is also supported by European Union grants and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). This investment creates new employment and business opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and contributes to regional integration.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to pose serious challenges on the global economy, including Serbia, the EIB and Intesa Leasing Beograd (ILB) signed a €40 million loan for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps in Serbia. These funds will enable ILB to provide affordable lease finance to local companies under more flexible and favourable conditions, which are part of COVID-19 exceptional measures adopted by the EIB in May 2020. This agreement will help support job retention, recovery and development of the private sector in Serbia.