EIB Global, the financial arm of the European Investment Bank (EIB) for activities outside the European Union, said it invested a record €1.2 billion across the Western Balkans in 2023 — €365 million more than in 2022.
The investments went to sustainable and energy transition projects that support the region’s EU accession, economic, climate and connectivity efforts.
“The funds support projects under the Economic and Investment Plan and the Global Gateway initiative, strategic EU instruments to bridge the existing infrastructural gaps and improve living standards,” said Kyriacos Kakouris, EIB Vice-President responsible for the region.
“In close cooperation with the European Commission, we are pleased to provide an impressive €475 million in grants under the Western Balkans Investment Framework and the EIB’s Economic Resilience Initiative.”
The EIB said about €693 million of new funds has been allocated to safer, sustainable transportation, namely railway lines in Serbia (Belgrade-Niš) and North Macedonia (Kriva Palanka-Bulgarian border).
The EU bank signed additional funding for the modernisation of urban transport in Sarajevo and a road rehabilitation and safety project in Serbia.
€275 million was devoted to supporting small and medium businesses (SMEs) in the Western Balkans. The remaining funds will go to energy, water, healthcare and education projects.
“Thanks to partnerships under Team Europe with our Western Balkans partners, the European Commission and international financial institutions, we could make the most of advisory and financial resources to maximise the benefits for people in the region,” said Kakouris.
“We look forward to the rollout of the Commission’s proposed New Growth Plan, which will expedite key reforms promoting greater economic prosperity, advancing convergence with the European Union and strengthening regional initiatives like the Common Regional Market.”
The EIB is one of the leading international financiers in the Western Balkans.
Over the period 2010-2023, the EIB financed projects in the region amounting to €10.2 billion. Since 2010, beyond financing to rebuild and upgrade public infrastructure, the EIB has expanded into many new areas, including healthcare, research and development, education and SMEs.