EIB financing of EUR 265m represents some 40% of the total costs of this major infrastructure project in Serbia
EU bank support covers the most complex and demanding sections of the motorway linking Belgrade with Sofia
The final 22 km stretch of a new 87 km section of the Serbian E-80 motorway was inaugurated today. 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.
Corridor X is part of the strategic pan-European transport infrastructure passing through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, North Macedonia and Greece and has four branches, including Branch C: E-80 Nis (Serbia) – Sofia (Bulgaria). It is crucial to connecting the Western Balkans with the European Union.
EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova stated: “The EU bank has made a substantial contribution to the completion of the motorway connection between Serbia and Bulgaria. This is one of the most significant transport infrastructure projects Serbia has seen in recent years, and what I particularly welcome is its cross-border dimension. Corridor X helps to connect and integrate Balkan countries with the European Union, thereby having a positive impact on people’s everyday lives via increased economic growth, transport safety and capacity.”
President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic commented: “We will continue building without interruption for a better country with more jobs, more workers and more investment, so that the investment necessary for economic growth can be implemented, and so that we can very soon say that we have created the most beautiful country in the Balkans.”
Prime Minister of Bulgaria Borisov stated: “Thank you for this honour and this opportunity. Today we can say, like the Germans, that the Berlin Wall has fallen for us. As of today, Serbia has direct access to the ports of Varna and Burgas and a direct link to Istanbul – with no traffic lights – on safe and secure infrastructure. All of Bulgarian industry will use this path to Western Europe. Today we are connecting Asia and Europe through Bulgaria and Serbia.”
Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlović commented:“With the entire Road Corridor X open to traffic, Serbia has finally completed its largest infrastructure project in the last 50 years. With the completion of a highway up to the borders with North Macedonia and Bulgaria, Serbia has returned to the transport map of Europe as the country offering the shortest route connecting Central Europe to Middle East. The experience gained during the construction of Corridor X will be invaluable in making all future projects faster and more efficient and in making Serbia a true transport hub in this part of Europe, not only in road, but also in other modes of transport.”
The EIB provided a total of EUR 265m to the construction of the Corridor X Motorway. This is the second-largest public sector project the EU bank has financed in Serbia since 1977, following a EUR 314m loan financing the E-75 highway. The current project is a good example of the EIB’s cooperation with the European Commission and other International Financial Institutions, as it has been co-financed by EU funds, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank as well as by the Serbian State budget.
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.
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.
The EIB and the ProCredit group have agreed on a new €65 million credit line to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Western Balkans and to speed their recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. This transaction provides much-needed financing to companies in Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia and Bosnia & Herzegovina and addresses their working capital, liquidity and investment needs in the face of the ongoing pandemic. In parallel, the operation strengthens the regional banking sector and reinforces its ability to finance the economic recovery of the Western Balkans.