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  • EIB Global invested €835.2 million in the Western Balkans in 2022 for new projects, contributing to the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan and aiming to mobilise close to €3.5 billion of new investments in the region
  • These investments will accelerate the green and digital transition, promote greater regional integration and support the EU accession path of the region
  • Under its dedicated arm for operations outside the European Union - EIB Global increased technical support for new energy efficiency and renewable energy projects
  • Since 2020, the Bank’s investments in the region supporting the sustainable green and digital transition of local economies total €2.5 billion
  • Support for small businesses, job creation and decarbonisation continued to be among the priorities for EIB Group, as a key partner to the private sector

The EU bank, through its arm dedicated to activities outside the European Union — EIB Global — invested €824 million across the Western Balkans in 2022 to accelerate sustainable connectivity, clean environment, green transition, digitalisation and private sector growth. These projects contribute to the roll out of the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan for the region and the EU’s Global Gateway initiative. On top of that, the Bank mobilised €11.2 million in grants to initiate sustainable, urban development, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The lion’s share of new signatures was allocated to more sustainable, safe and efficient transportation via rail and waterway projects, amounting to 75% of total lending last year, followed by investments in small businesses, environmental protection and digitalisation. 

As one of the main players of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), EIB Global develops and implements investments in close cooperation with the European Commission, international financial institutions and Western Balkan economies. This Team Europe approach maximises the use of the finance available for much needed investments. The EU bank has also designed innovative financial instruments, including a mix of loans, guarantees, advisory and grants, under the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+), to support municipalities, power producers, corporates, small businesses and commercial banks with investments in the energy, connectivity and digital sectors.

EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova, responsible for the Western Balkans, said: “The impact of our financing in the region reflects the EIB Group’s dedicated and enduring support for the Western Balkans spanning over 45 years. For the last couple of years, Europe has been facing intertwined crises that have caused massive socioeconomic disruption. At the same time, they have accelerated the green and digital transition, prompting the EIB to revert to its role as a countercyclical economic policy instrument under the Team Europe initiative to help local economies recover faster and adapt infrastructure to address critical challenges going forward.”

Since 2020, the EIB has invested €2.5 billion in the Western Balkans providing direct, concrete support to countries, facilitating a long-term shift to a climate-neutral, energy-secure and inclusive economy, while tackling the most immediate consequences of the crisis.

“Now, we plan to expand our involvement in the energy sector by contributing to the €1 billion EU energy support package adopted in December 2022, involving renewable energy projects and the construction and upgrade of energy network and storage facilities,” underlined Vice-President Pavlova.

Initiating climate-friendly and urban development projects

As the EU climate bank, over 80% of the €824 million signed in 2022 went to environmentally sustainable projects, thus contributing directly to climate action. Among others, the loans’ proceeds will enable the construction of the Belgrade-Niš rail section on Corridor X in Serbia, the rehabilitation of the *Kosovo part of European Rail Route 10 and further improvements to ports and waterway infrastructure along the Sava and Danube rivers. In North Macedonia, EIB Global will provide financing for the water supply, wastewater and flood protection infrastructure in 80 municipalities. To accelerate digitalisation, additional funds have been allocated to the Connected Schools project in Serbia.

On top of its financing, the Bank provided €11.2 million in grants for the preparation and implementation of new projects. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, EIB Global’s technical assistance will enable the construction of a 50 MW windfarm in the Travnik region, speeding up the transition to renewable and secure energy resources. In Albania, the Bank supports the preparation of a social housing project in the country’s capital, as well as the development of investment plans for the counties of Shkodër and Lezhë to help improve connectivity, environmental quality and the tourism sector. In Kosovo, EIB Global is helping with the improvement of higher education infrastructure and standards.

“As part of Team Europe, EIB Global is glad to support the region in addressing urban development and infrastructural needs in a financially sustainable, socially inclusive and energy-efficient way. These grants are further proof of our commitment to boost energy-secure and climate-neutral development of the Western Balkans, align with EU standards and combat climate change,” stated EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova.

Key partner to small businesses in the region

Contributing to the private sector’s recovery, growth, job creation and decarbonisation continued to be the EIB Group’s focus in 2022. In cooperation with national development institutions and commercial banks, the Bank provided €150 million in the form of credit lines for small businesses to help them address their liquidity and investment needs, while shifting to a more climate-neutral, inclusive and digital model.

This year officially saw the rollout of the Bank’s impact finance credit line that fosters women entrepreneurship and inclusive job opportunities across the region. Through this loan, partner banks provide financial rewards for companies that commit to employ people from vulnerable social groups on a long-term basis. In response to the current energy crisis, EIB Global designed a dedicated credit line for climate and energy-efficient projects.

Lastly, the European Investment Fund, part of the EIB Group, launched the €60 million “WB EDIF Guarantee Facility for SME Resilience” to provide access to finance at favourable terms for some 4 000 small businesses in the region. The guarantee is expected to unlock a portfolio of about seven times the allocated resources — some €400 million — and provide substantial support to local small businesses to help them access credit, increase their resilience and strengthen capacities while moving towards a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.

Background information

About EIB Global

EIB Global is the EIB Group’s specialised arm dedicated to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance. EIB Global is designed to foster strong, focused partnerships within Team Europe, alongside fellow development finance institutions and civil society. EIB Global brings the Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices across the world.

About the EIB in the Western Balkans

The EIB is one of the leading international financiers in the Western Balkans. Over the period 2009-2022, the Bank financed projects amounting to  €10.3 billion in the region. Besides continuing its support for the reconstruction and upgrading of public infrastructure, the EIB has expanded into many new areas since 2010, including healthcare, research and development, education and small businesses. For detailed information on the EIB’s activities in the Western Balkans, see www.eib.org/en/publications/the-eib-in-the-western-balkans

About the EIF

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. The EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments that specifically target this market segment. In this role, the EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment. For more information, see https://www.eif.org.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.