Sunday, July 21, 2024

European Commission announces additional €1.2 billion investment package for infrastructure and support to entrepreneurship in the Western Balkans

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Today, the European Commission announced the sixth investment package under the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans that is expected to mobilise €1.2 billion in investments. This package will support eight new flagship investments in water supply and sanitation, wastewater treatment and rail transport, as well as innovation and green transformation in small and medium enterprises. The investments will be rolled out in close cooperation with the Western Balkan partners and international financial institutions.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: Our €30 billion Investment Plan for the Western Balkans is delivering, with this new €1.2 billion package. It strengthens regional connections with quality infrastructure and brings us closer together, which is our ultimate goal. Our Western Balkan partners are building their European future. These investments, along with necessary reforms and access to our Single Market, will prepare our partners’ economies to join our Union.”

The €1.2 billion in investment package includes €300 million in EU grants from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III), additional bilateral contributions from EU Member States and Norway, loans from international financing institutions and contributions from the economies of the Western Balkans. The package was endorsed by the Operational Board of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) during the 1-2 July meeting. The new flagship investments fall under three priorities of the Economic and Investment Plan:

  • Environment and climate: Reconstruction and rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation infrastructure in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Sustainable transport: advancing on Corridor X rail infrastructure, with the high-speed Belgrade – Velika Plana connection enabling a faster flow of passengers and freight in the region.
  • Support to the business sector: launch of a new facility for innovation and green transformation of enterprises in the region.

Background 

As part of the Global Gateway, the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans (2021-27) aims to spur long-term recovery, accelerate a green and digital transition, and foster regional cooperation and convergence with the EU. Adopted by the European Commission in October 2020, the Plan mobilises up to €30 billion in investments, including €9 billion in EU grants through IPA III, over the seven-year period. Of this amount, €5 billion has been committed through the WBIF.

So far, the EU has approved programmes set to mobilise up to €17.5 billion in investments under the Economic and Investment Plan, including €5.4 billion in EU grants.

The WBIF is a joint financial platform launched 15 years ago, bringing together the European Commission, financial organisations, EU Member States and Norway, to enhance cooperation in public and private sector investments. It supports the region’s socio-economic development and contributes to the European integration of the Western Balkans. Alongside being the main financial vehicle for implementing the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan, the WBIF will also play an important role in the implementation of the new €6 billion Reform and Growth Facility for the Western Balkans, which has the double objective to boost socio-economic convergence with the EU and accelerate the accession process. The WBIF will channel €3 billion of grants and loans under the Facility to support priority investments in transport, energy, digital and human capital areas.

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Quote(s)

 

Our €30 billion Investment Plan for the Western Balkans is delivering, with this new €1.2 billion package. It strengthens regional connections with quality infrastructure and brings us closer together, which is our ultimate goal. Our Western Balkan partners are building their European future. These investments, along with necessary reforms and access to our Single Market, will prepare our partners’ economies to join our Union.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

 

The EU’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans is being rolled out swiftly, with the shared ambition to bring the region closer to the EU, as the new investment package adopted today demonstrates. The Western Balkans Investment Framework has made a real difference over the last 15 years, including helping the region connecting their road, rail, energy and digital infrastructures, weather the energy crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to continue working with the WBIF as we aim to accelerate the socio-economic convergence of the region with the EU as part of the new €6 billion Reform and Growth Facility and make a difference on the ground for the benefit of the citizens and businesses alike.

Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement

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