Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Western Balkans receive €3.2bn in aid from the European Commission

Written by Eric Apim on Tuesday, March 1st 2022 à 10:05 | Read 444 times

WESTERN BALKANS. The European Commission announced on Friday 25 February 2022 an investment of €3.2 billion for twenty-one projects in the Western Balkans. They concern sustainable connectivity projects in the field of transport, digital, climate and energy.

These projects constitute the first package of the Economic and Investment Plan for the region adopted in October 2020 to "bridge the development gap between the European Union and the region and support post-pandemic economic recovery", as stated in a European Commission press release. Included in the new Global Gateway strategy, it provides for up to €30bn of funding in the form of grants, preferential loans and guarantees.

The €3.2bn package has been raised through a multi-donor investment platform (the Western Balkans Investment Framework - WBIF) consisting of the European Commission, financial organisations, EU Member States and Norway.

This includes €1.1bn in EU grants under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance 2021-2027, additional bilateral contributions from EU Member States and Norway, as well as soft loans from international financial institutions.

"Better quality connections"

The floating solar power plant in Vau i Dejës, Albania (photo: DR)
The floating solar power plant in Vau i Dejës, Albania (photo: DR)
"We have identified these flagship projects in close cooperation with our partners. Better and more sustainable transport, digital infrastructure and renewable energy connections will boost the economy, support the region's ecological and digital transition and provide many opportunities for people and businesses in the Western Balkans and across the EU," says Olivér Várhelyi. For the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, "these investments will also accelerate the integration of the region, in line with its clear European perspective.

Among the projects selected are the rail corridor between Skopje (Northern Macedonia) and the Bulgarian border (€412m investment), a 27-kilometre motorway linking Kosovo and Serbia (€205m), the construction of solar power plants (for a gradual move away from coal), including the first floating plant at Vau i Dejës in Albania for €12m, water treatment plants in Montenegro (€76m) and the extension of the trans-Balkan electricity corridor crossing Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro (€40.8m). On the digital side, a project to develop a rural broadband infrastructure to guarantee universal access in the Western Balkans as well as in Serbia is worth €105m.

Read also: Promises, but still no EU integration horizon for the Western Balkans


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