Energy Crisis

EU earmarks grants for Western Balkans to cope with energy crisis in 2023

EU earmarks grants Western Balkans cope energy crisis 2023

Photo: Christophe Licoppe / EC - Audiovisual Service

Published

October 28, 2022

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Published:

October 28, 2022

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised budget aid to the Western Balkans for measures to mitigate the blow from the energy crisis on vulnerable households as well as for businesses. Serbia’s budget will be boosted with EUR 165 million, North Macedonia will get EU 80 million and Kosovo* gets EUR 75 million, compared to EUR 80 million for Albania and EUR 70 million for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is on a tour of the Western Balkans. She announced that EUR 500 million in grants would be approved for energy infrastructure within the European Union’s Economic and Investment Plan.

On top of that, direct budget aid has been earmarked for the countries of the region to help their efforts to ease the impact of high energy prices, Von der Leyen said. The energy security package, as she called it, is intended for households and businesses. It will be accessible from January, according to the head of the EU’s executive body, who is visiting Montenegro tomorrow as her last stop.

We are already in energy union

Albania is getting EUR 80 million in direct budget aid. Speaking with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Von der Leyen praised the country’s support system for families and small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the energy crisis. Investment from the upcoming tranche from the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans will be directed to the project for a floating solar power plant in Vau i Dejës and the modernization of the Fierza hydroelectric plant, she pointed out.

The mid-term EUR 500 million package is from the existing Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, worth EUR 9 billion

Russia is using energy as a weapon, and by that it is manipulating the market, in Von der Leyen’s words. “In the European Union, we have decided that the only possible response is unity and solidarity. As we are in this together, the response, together with Albania, is unity and solidarity. We are in an energy union already. We are putting forward now an energy support package for the Western Balkans. We are doing the same in the European Union,” Von der Leyen underscored.

The Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans consists of EUR 9 billion in grants. “And important is for us – and that works very well – that you design, you propose the quality, the mature projects that are needed, so that together we can then leverage up to EUR 20 billion more in investment,” she asserted.

Western Balkans can join EU’s joint gas purchase platform

In Serbia, the European Commission chief revealed the EU would grant EUR 165 million to its government to assist everyone that is suffering from the jump in energy costs. As for the medium-term investment package, she highlighted the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor and the ongoing construction of the Tiršova 2 university children’s hospital in Belgrade, stressing that the facility would be energy efficient.

Together with President Aleksandar Vučić, she visited a construction site for a gas interconnection with Bulgaria. “Now, we invite everyone, and Serbia too, to join us in our EU joint procurement of gas because we want to use our market power as the energy union to achieve better results on the global market where there is a lot of competition for gas, mainly LNG, and to be there as a European energy union exerting our market power for better results on the prices,” Von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen praises Kosovo’s green energy projects

The energy security package for the Western Balkans includes EUR 70 million for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Commission president said upon arrival in the country. In North Macedonia, at the beginning of her tour, she promised EUR 80 million in immediate budget support.

Kosovo* is set to receive EUR 75 million. Von der Leyen commended the government in Prishtina for solar power projects and plans to upgrade the district heating system with clean energy in eight cities.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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