All of us are grappling with the challenge of ensuring a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and making the most of the opportunities presented by the green and digital transitions. There are no easy answers, but we believe that the European Union’s ambitious Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans provides a solid basis for a coordinated approach to these challenges.
The Plan reconfirms the EU’s role as the region’s principal partner. It also allows for EU norms and standards to be embedded in the region—before EU accession. This
will expedite the socio-economic integration of countries within the region and their integration with the EU.
It will ensure quality investment and transparency, through rigorous procurement requirements.
The recent agreement in principle between the Serbian Government and the EU on the financing of the railway line Corridor Ten linking Belgrade to Skopje is a good example of the kind of projects we intend to support in the future.
The recent Western Balkans Rail Summit is a further example of our commitment to boosting gateways in the region.
The European Investment Bank’s support will be reinforced by increased local presence and a tailor-made approach to this region of Europe. We have successfully delivered on our commitment to contribute 1.7 billion euros as an immediate response to COVID-19, including—among many other projects—guarantee schemes for youth employment, digitalisation of schools and support for SMEs to increase their social impact, in particular on gender and inter-generational equality.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the EU Climate Bank, we are fully committed to supporting investment in cleaner energy, climate adaptation and green technological development. And we are fully committed to a just transition to strengthen economic and social cohesion.
…At the EIB we are very proud of our partnership with the Western Balkans. We are fully committed to the Economic and Investment Plan, and to strengthening economic ties across the region, in the knowledge that the Western Balkan’s future lies in the European Union.