• In 2020, the EIB increased its investments in the region by almost 50%, reaching €873 million in financial commitments
  • Lilyana Pavlova, EIB vice-president for the Western Balkans, highlights the EIB’s substantial contribution to social and economic development in 2020, laying the groundwork for further investment under the European Commission’s Economic and Investment Plan
  • The EIB has already mobilised over €1 billion of financing as part of Team Europe’s COVID response for the region

As presented at a press conference today, the European Investment Bank Group (EIB) invested €873 million in the Western Balkans in 2020, increasing its financing in the region by 50% compared to 2019. It provided extensive support to the recovery from COVID-19 under the European Union’s Team Europe initiative to help the most affected sectors.

In line with the European Union’s focus on connectivity, the majority of the investment, €531 million, was allocated to constructing and modernising transport infrastructure in the region, along with a €12 million grant provided under the EU Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) for Corridor Vc in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The EU bank supported a diversified portfolio of investments in key sectors for the region, including a €65 million investment for digitalising over 1 500 schools across Serbia. This project will facilitate the introduction of IT equipment and high-speed internet, while some 50 000 teachers will be able to receive training in digital skills. In keeping with the Bank’s climate goals, an €11 million investment for wastewater infrastructure in Kosovo* will improve access to water for some 90 000 people in the Gjilan/Gnjilane municipality.

The EIB is playing a leading role in Team Europe’s response to the COVID crisis, committing €1.7 billion of the €3.3 billion total announced at the EU-Western Balkans Zagreb Summit in May 2020. To date, the Bank has mobilised over €1 billion to accelerate the recovery from COVID-19 in the Western Balkans. The funds were channelled to provide immediate assistance for the healthcare and private sector, especially small companies, the hardest hit by the pandemic.

EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova, who is responsible for the Western Balkans, said: I am delighted that the EIB Group has almost doubled its investment volume for the Western Balkans in one of the most challenging years in recent history. However, we will not stop there, but will continue to provide our full support to help the region overcome the COVID-19 crisis, advance with EU integration and accelerate the much needed economic transformation into a green and digital market. We are particularly proud of the EIB’s first impact finance loan that will boost youth employment and women’s entrepreneurship, while triggering investment in the digitalisation of the private and public sector.”

In 2021, the Bank plans to deliver more support for climate action, the recovery of SMEs, connectivity, the digital transformation and projects encouraging inclusive employment. All of these initiatives are part of the European Commission’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. The EIB Group looks forward to working with all of its partners on implementing this major plan that aims to mobilise up to €9 billion for inclusive growth, sustainable transport, the digital and green transformation and the creation of a common regional market, with €20 billion in investment also expected to be leveraged by the Western Balkan Guarantee Facility.

Background information

About the EIB

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. For more information, see www.eib.org(link is external)

About the EIF

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. The EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments that specifically target this market segment. In this role, the EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment. For more information, see https://www.eif.org(link is external)

About the EIB in the Western Balkans

The EIB is one the leading international financiers in the Western Balkans. Over 2009-2020, the Bank financed projects totalling €8.6 billion in the region. Besides continuing its support for the reconstruction and upgrading of public infrastructure, the EIB has expanded into many new areas since 2010, including healthcare, research and development, education and SMEs. For detailed information on the EIB’s activities in the Western Balkans, please visit the following website: www.eib.org/en/publications/the-eib-in-the-western-balkans(link is external)