The European Commission unveiled a €3.2 billion investment package to support 21 transport, digital, climate and energy connectivity projects in the Western Balkans on Friday.
A press release said that this is the first major package of projects under the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which the Commission adopted in October 2020. The projects are designed to bring tangible benefits to all six partners in the region.
It quoted European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi as saying that “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,” he said.
The financial package includes €1.1 billion in EU grants from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance 2021-2027 (IPA III), additional bilateral contributions from EU Member States and Norway, and favourable loans from international financing institutions. The €3.2 billion investment package is channelled through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF).
The projects in this first package cover the Plan's priority sectors: sustainable transport, clean energy, environment and climate, digital and human development, the press release said adding that implementation will start after agreements are signed with international financial institutions, in 2022 and 2023.