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Framework for the Western Balkans

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The European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Council of Europe Development Bank, with the support of EU Member States, today launched the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) to finance priority projects in the Western Balkans. .

The objective is to pool and coordinate different sources of financing and to mobilize loans with grants for priority projects in the Western Balkan countries. The initial focus on infrastructure sectors, including social infrastructure, will be expanded to include support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), energy efficiency and other investment sectors.

A first meeting of the WBIF steering committee decided to allocate €26 million in grants for technical assistance support to 26 projects across the region in various sectors. The projects are expected to attract 2.2 billion euros in loans from international financial institutions.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said: “In turbulent times, the EU enlargement process provides an anchor of stability for the Western Balkan countries. The EU stands alongside the region to help mitigate the impact of the economic crisis. The Western Balkans Investment Framework is a tangible demonstration of this joint effort to support the region’s integration and economic recovery, as it will pool resources for priority infrastructure projects.

Dario Scannapieco, Vice-President of the EIB, said: “The decisions taken today demonstrate the effective commitment of all donors to improve and increase their interventions in the region. This coordination and better pooling of grants and loans are likely to significantly improve the impact of donor assistance in the Western Balkans and the EIB will continue to strengthen its activities in this cooperation framework.

Varel Freeman, First Vice-President of the EBRD, said: “The Western Balkans Investment Framework, jointly created by our institutions, is an innovative and effective tool for pooling financial resources that aims to help countries beneficiaries to gain greater access to funding for priority projects and to improve the situation. impact of these investments for the region as a whole.

The Governor of the Council of Europe Development Bank, Raphaël Alomar, said: “We are firmly committed to investing in social cohesion and stability, in cooperation with our European peers and partners in the Western Balkans region. To date, the CEB has helped finance projects worth some €10 billion in Central and South-Eastern European countries. Faced with the prospect of increasing vulnerability, the CEB will further strengthen its action in favor of public social infrastructure in the region.

The WBIF consists of a common grant mechanism and a common loan mechanism to finance priority projects in the Western Balkans. The common grant mechanism will help finance the preparation and implementation of priority projects in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo (under Security Council Resolution 1244). United Nations Security), Montenegro and Serbia. Good preparation and a solid implementation framework are essential for projects to benefit from loan financing and successfully contribute to economic growth in the Western Balkans in the context of the accession process.

The European Commission has so far allocated some €110 million to support the financing of municipal infrastructure projects and technical assistance projects in the region. The EIB, EBRD and CEB have each pledged €10 million for technical assistance or other grants, in accordance with their respective internal procedures. EU Member States and other donors are also invited to make grant contributions through a Joint European Fund for the Western Balkans, co-managed by the EIB and the EBRD, which is around the pre-existing EBRD Western Balkans Fund and benefits from its experience. All these different sources of financing are now brought together within the Joint Grant Facility.

The WBIF creates a single entry point for project submission by recipient countries and selection by contributors and financiers. Project selection will ensure consistency with country needs and support EU accession priorities.

The joint loan mechanism will complement the grant mechanism. The EIB, the bank of the European Union, and the EBRD have committed to making €1 billion in loans available. Likewise, the CEB should increase its loans to the region for social projects.

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