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Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted that this Summit has proceeded, despite the adverse circumstances. It demonstrates the EU’s commitment to and solidarity with the Western Balkans. Following the recent agreement to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, this event really underlines the European perspective of the entire region.
Despite the immense challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis within the EU itself, the Union has shown its unwavering support for its partner countries and its commitment to international cooperation and coordination. The EIB is fully committed to supporting the efforts of the European Union with its expertise and financial strength.
EIB’s long-time experience and presence in the Western Balkans means we are fully aware of the potential socio-economic impact of this crisis. We have moved fast and have prepared a package of EUR 1.7 billion to support the region.
The EU Bank is already accelerating disbursements and ramping-up our support for healthcare and the real economy, and SMEs in particular. We are developing regional financial facilities for both the public and private sector to address urgent needs. Looking beyond the immediate crisis, we are building a pipeline of investments that will contribute to safeguard the improvement of socio-economic conditions in the region and accelerate it further in the years ahead.
The immense needs in the region can only be addressed by a team effort and EIB looks forward to contributing to the Western Balkan Investment Framework and the forthcoming Economic and Investment Plan for Recovery.
I truly believe that this coordinated cooperation, combined with the reforms being enacted in each country as part of the accession process, will help the Western Balkans accelerate its recovery from this unprecedented crisis.