(Source: European Investment Bank)
The EIB, as the EU bank, has welcomed the tour of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to several countries in the Western Balkans, where she reaffirmed the EU’s support for the enlargement process and its benefits for people across the region. Referring to this event, the EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova, responsible for the EIB’s activities in Serbia, underlined the EU bank’s support for the EU’s priorities in the region, as part of Team Europe.
“Sustainable and less polluting forms of transport infrastructure are key in the development of the Western Balkan region. They are also a precondition for faster EU integration and alignment with the EU acquis and standards outlined in the EU Connectivity, Green and Digital Agendas. Within the Team Europe initiative, the EIB is proud to have contributed to the faster recovery of the Western Balkans by delivering its €1.7 billion commitment, while at the same time encouraging the green and digital transition in the area of sustainable mobility. The EU’s Economic and Investment Plan symbolises our long-term dedication to green recovery and sustainable growth and we will determinedly continue to provide our financial and economic support for the EU accession process and better living conditions for people in this part of Europe.”, stated Vice-President Pavlova.
EC President Von der Leyen also highlighted the role that the EU’s ambitious Economic and Investment Plan will play in boosting socio-economic development across the region and integrating further with the European Union. The EIB, as a core member of Team Europe, will support the rollout of this plan with substantial technical and financial support that aims to generate close to €30 billion in investments.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated: “We need to overcome the pandemic and we need to boost the economic recovery. The European Union has invested significantly to address the emergency of the pandemic crisis, in the EU, in the Western Balkans. Here, we have mobilised EUR 3.3 billion of support for the region. But overcoming the impact of the pandemic is one part but it is not enough. We need strategic investments that will ensure a lasting recovery. This is what our Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans is all about. We have put EUR 9 billion on the table. But important is your part: You design the projects, you propose the mature projects and the quality projects. And with that, together we can leverage another EUR 20 billion more in investments, so the overall package for the region is of EUR 30 billion. And this is good for the future.”
During her visit, President von der Leyen took part in the launch event for a railway construction project on Corridor X, where the EIB is expected to participate as one of the leading financiers. This rail route will enable a shift to more sustainable and efficient transportation options for passengers and goods and help reduce air pollution. She also witnessed the signing of the contract for the rehabilitation of the section of the Peace Highway connecting Serbia with Albania’s Adriatic coast. This motorway is seen as crucial for improving regional cooperation, cohesion and trade. The EIB is financing a key stretch of this motorway between Niš and Merdare providing a €100 million loan, in combination with a €40 million EU grant. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, The European Commission President also attended the opening ceremony of the Svilaj Bridge that will enable faster travel times between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This bridge is part of Pan-European Corridor Vc, which is the most ambitious road project in the region and has already benefitted from over €1 billion of EIB financing.
Since the start of its operations there, the EIB has invested €5 billion in the transportation network in the Western Balkans, supporting modern and safe railways, waterways, urban traffic and the road networks. Alongside the European Commission and its local partners, the EIB will scale up its support to help the transformation towards a smarter, digitalised, and more sustainable and accessible transportation network in the region. Apart from its financing support, the EU Bank is providing technical assistance for project preparation, supervision and implementation through the joint EU and EIB JASPERS programme that has been active in the region since 2013.
About the EIB in the Balkans:
The EIB is one of the leading international financiers in the Western Balkans.
The European Investment Bank is active in around 160 countries and is the world’s largest multilateral lender for climate action projects. The EIB Group has recently adopted its Climate Bank Roadmap to deliver on its ambitious agenda to support €1 trillion of climate action and environmental sustainability investments in the decade to 2030 and to deliver more than 50% of EIB finance for climate action and environmental sustainability by 2025. Further, as part of the Roadmap, since the start of 2021, all new EIB Group operations are aligned with the goals and principles of the Paris Agreement.