TIRANA (Albania), December 18 (SeeNews) – The European Union and bilateral donors have approved 194 million euro ($216.3 million) in grants to finance new digital, environmental, transport and energy projects across the Western Balkans, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said on Wednesday.
“These projects will be supported by loans from the EBRD and other international financial institutions (IFIs),” the bank said in a statement following the 21st steering committee meeting of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF).
Grants approved for EBRD projects are expected to leverage more than 400 million euro in investments.
“They include the construction of three new motorway sections for Corridor Vc in Bosnia and Herzegovina, two new sections of Corridor X in North Macedonia, the rehabilitation of Kosovo’s railways, wastewater and sewage infrastructure in Gjilan and broadband connectivity for rural schools in Serbia,” the bank said
The EBRD also said it has signed two contribution agreements totalling 45 million euro with the EU to support the advice for small business programme in the Western Balkans and the Regional Energy Efficiency Programme.
“The latter extends support to the residential sector and the rehabilitation of public buildings and is implemented together with KfW Group.”
The head of Western Balkans regional cooperation and programmes, DG NEAR, at the European Commission, Colin Wolfe, said in the statement: “Our cooperation has had a tangible impact on the ground: people benefit from better transport connections every day; better energy provisions, including clean energy transition; businesses have become more competitive; and the economies in the region have become greener and more integrated,”
“We work very closely with our partners to build green, sustainable economies in the Western Balkans,” EBRD director, regional head of the Western Balkans, Zsuzsanna Hargitai, said. “Our work in the WBIF is helping achieve this objective by pooling scarce resources in an efficient way.”
The WBIF, a joint initiative by the EU, IFIs, bilateral donors and the governments of the Western Balkans, was established to support socioeconomic development and the accession of the countries of the region into the EU. The total commitments of the EU and bilateral donors under the WBIF exceed 1 billion euro, while total investments from IFIs amount to over 5.5 billion euro, the EBRD noted.