European Commission launches €3.2 billion investment to advance sustainable connectivity in the Western Balkans News | WeBalkans

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25/02/2022

European Commission launches €3.2 billion investment to advance sustainable connectivity in the Western Balkans

Albania
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Kosovo
Montenegro
North Macedonia
Serbia

The European Commission today unveiled a substantial €3.2 billion investment package to support 21 transport, digital, climate and energy connectivity projects in the Western Balkans. This is the first major package of projects under the EU’s ambitious Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which the Commission adopted in October 2020 and which will put into action the EU Global Gateway strategy in this region. The projects will bring tangible benefits to all six partners in the region.

 

EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “With this major investment package we are accelerating the delivery of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans on the ground. We have identified these flagship projects in close cooperation with our partners. Better and more sustainable connections in transport, digital infrastructure and renewable energy will boost the economy, drive the green and digital transition of the region and bring a host of opportunities for people and businesses in the Western Balkans and across the EU. These investments will also speed up the integration of the region, in line with its clear European perspective.” 

 

Over the next years, the Economic and Investment Plan is set to mobilise up to €30 billion of investments, as a combination of grants, preferential loans and guarantees. The Plan will help close the development gap between the EU and the region and support the post-pandemic economic recovery.

 

The projects in this first package cover the Plan’s priority sectors:

 

-Sustainable transport: Construction of major road and railway connections[1] in the region, including the Mediterranean, East-West, and Rhine-Danube corridors and the rail corridor between Skopje in North Macedonia and the Bulgarian border. These projects will facilitate regional trade, reduce travel times and spur sustainable economic growth.

 

-Clean energy: Development of renewable energy sources with the construction of solar power plants and the Trans-Balkan Electricity Transmission Corridor, which will be instrumental for a successful clean energy transition in the region and will contribute to phasing-out of coal use.

 

-Environment & climate: Construction of wastewater treatment plants, which will help to safeguard the environment, health and welfare of the people in the Western Balkans.

 

-Digital: Development of rural broadband infrastructure to ensure universal access

 

-Human development: Construction of a new building of a university children’s hospital to increase its capacity and to include new diagnostic and treatment technologies.

 

Implementation will start soon after signing agreements with international financial institutions, expected during 2022 and 2023.

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Source: European Union

Photo credits: European Union

 

[1]The package announced today includes the investment projects submitted by Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which two are on the territory of Republika Srpska for road and rail connections along Corridor Vc. The Commission intends to sign the respective contribution agreements for these two investments, worth €600 million, only after the return to the full functioning of state institutions.

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