The second EU grant for the Belgrade – Niš section of the Railway Corridor X was signed today in Belgrade.
At the signing ceremony, EIB Vice-President Pavlova stressed the project’s importance for regional and EU integration, and the need for multimodal transportation options for the benefit of Serbia’s people, environment and economy.
The project forms part ofthe Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, is a Team Europe Initiative, and contributes to the Global Gateway.
Only a month after the first grant was signed, EIB Global signed a second EU grant for €174.6 million for the subsection Paraćin – Trupale – Međurovo rail route, part of an EU financial package totalling €2.2 billion for the Belgrade – Niš section of the Railway Corridor X. The first grant under the Western Balkans Investment Framework (€82.8 million) was signed in February 2023. The funds will enable the upgrade and modernisation of 230 km of railway. This will enable travel speeds of up to 200 km/h between Belgrade and Niš, increase trade flows and stimulate economic growth along the route.
The signing ceremony was attended by Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova, Minister for European Integration Tanja Miščević, Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Goran Vesić, EU Ambassador to Serbia Emanuele Giaufret and representatives of Serbian Railways. This is a flagship project of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, and a Team Europe Initiative. It also benefits from EU technical assistance in preparing documentation that satisfies EU economic, environmental and social safeguards and procurement rules.
Lilyana Pavlova, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) responsible for the Western Balkans, explained, “As of today, we have already signed two grants for this important project within a single month. This proves the commitment of the European Union and its institutions to delivering new, upgraded railways between two pivotal cities in Serbia, linking the country to the region — and further to the European Union, as this route is part of the pan-European Railway Corridor X. By mobilising extensive financial and technical assistance within Team Europe, we want to help Serbia integrate into other European rail networks and provide multimodal transportation options for the benefit of its people, environment and economy.”
Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia Ana Brnabić said, “We are truly grateful to our partners from the EIB for supporting our strategic goal, which is EU integration, and for supporting Serbia’s economic growth and productivity by providing the necessary funds for various infrastructure projects with regional impact. The Belgrade – Niš railway section is just such a project, as is the Paraćin – Međurovo subsection for which the investment grant was signed today. Its construction will facilitate travel for people in Serbia and better connection with the region.”
Minister of European Integration Tanja Miščević remarked today that the EU grant of €174.6 million allocated for this part of the railway will contribute significantly to safer passenger traffic in Serbia, shorten train journeys, enable faster transportation of goods and reduce the cost of maintaining railway infrastructure.
“Due to all of that, travelling and transporting goods by train will be more attractive to citizens and the economy. And in this way, our country, in partnership with the European Union and with its support, is achiving its goal of becoming infrastructurally connected with neighboring countries and Europe as a whole — which in turn contributes to the overall development of Serbia,” Minister Miščević stressed.
The grant signed today is part of an EU financial package of €2.2 billion to modernise the Belgrade – Niš railway, encompassing up to €600 million in EU grants. It is a clear demonstration of the rapid progress made by Team Europe in funding this flagship railway project. The package also includes a €1.1 billion EIB loan and a €550 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Goran Vesić thanked the EIB for supporting Serbia’s railway projects and underlined that this section will be a priority for the country going forward.
EU Ambassador to Serbia Emanuele Giaufret explained, “The new EU-financed railway changes realities on the ground in a positive way, and leads us to a new future. While it currently takes almost a whole working day to travel from Belgrade to Niš, once the project is finished, it will take only one hour and 40 minutes. This is the time it might take to watch a nice film on the way. This project enables a future in which people are better and more closely connected within Serbia, but also within Europe and the region. This new railway will also create many new jobs and stimulate economic growth.”
In the last 10 years, the EIB has supported the rail sector with more than €39 billion globally, helping to construct or upgrade almost 2 000 km of tracks and 304 stations. As a lead financier of strategic railway routes in the Western Balkans, the EIB has invested over €1.2 billion in the region’s rail sector, supporting regional cooperation and connectivity.
About the EIB and EIB Global
The EIB is the long-term financing institution of the European Union, owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EIB supports projects in four priority areas: infrastructure, innovation, climate and environment, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). EIB Global is the EIB Group’s specialised arm devoted to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance, and a key partner of Global Gateway. We aim to support €100 billion of investment by the end of 2027 — around one-third of the overall target of this EU initiative. Within Team Europe, EIB Global fosters strong, focused partnerships alongside fellow development finance institutions, and civil society. EIB Global brings the EIB Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices around the world.
The EIB has been active in Serbia since 1977, providing finance to support key infrastructure projects, as well as SMEs, industry, services and local authorities. Since becoming active in the country, it has enabled over €7.2 billion of investments to support SMEs and revitalise transportation, education, healthcare and utility infrastructure.
The Belgrade-Niš section of the Railway Corridor X will receive EIB Global’s financing of up to €1.1 billion, of which €550 million has already been signed. All in all, the European Union is providing a €2.2 billion financing package to Serbia to give this important section of railway a much-needed upgrade that will enable travel speeds of up to 200 km/h between Belgrade and Niš. The package consists of EU investment grants of up to €598 million (the largest EU grant for a single project in Serbia to date), a €1.1 billion EIB loan, as well as a loan of €550 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The European Union has already approved grants worth €265 million, and today marked the signing of the first loan tranche for €82.8 million under the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF).
The European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the European Union, will continue to provide hands-on support for fast, sustainable and green investments for climate action, improved connectivity and COVID-19 recovery. In doing so, the Bank stands by the Republic of Serbia in its EU accession goals, said EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova during her visit to Serbia earlier this week. Vice-President Pavlova opened the Western Balkans Rail Summit in Belgrade, where regional transport ministers, government and European Commission representatives and rail professionals planned the future development and modernisation of the regional rail network.
The first 5.5 km section of the Niš-Merdare highway was opened today by Republic of Serbia President Aleksandar Vučić and the Ambassador of the European Union to Serbia Emanuele Giaufret, in the presence of representatives of EIB Global, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Serbian ministers. The contract for this first section of the highway was signed in September 2021 during the visit of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.