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EU expects Western Balkan countries to offer quality projects for financing under EUR 9 billion plan

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Photo: Dati Bendo/EC - Audiovisual Service

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September 30, 2021

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Published:

September 30, 2021

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The European Union expects countries in the region to design and propose “mature, quality projects” to be financed under the bloc’s EUR 9 billion Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who toured the region ahead of next week’s EU-Western Balkans Summit in Slovenia.

The core areas covered by the Economic and Investment Plan include, among others, sustainable transportation, clean energy, the environment, and climate.

The EU hopes the plan’s implementation could help raise a further EUR 20 billion in investments so the overall package that goes into Green Deal projects, digitalization, and resilience in the Western Balkans could reach nearly EUR 30 billion, according to statements from Von der Leyen during the tour.

The EU hopes total investments in Green Deal projects, digitalization, and resilience could reach EUR 30 billion

She also said the EU has allocated EUR 500 million from the plan so far in 2021 and that the commission would propose an additional EUR 600 million still for this year.

The plan, adopted in 2020, was presented in parallel to guidelines for implementing the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, which includes climate action, circular economy, biodiversity, and air, water, and soli pollution.

Von der Leyen: energy grids will help build a sustainable, green future

In Serbia, the projects include the construction of the country’s leg of the Trans-Balkan Electricity Transmission Corridor, a project that connects the electricity markets of Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Italy.

Work is also under way on gas interconnections, said Von der Leyen, who met in Belgrade with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. According to earlier reports, the plan covers gas interconnections Bosnia and Herzegovina – Croatia, North Macedonia – Kosovo*, and North Macedonia – Serbia , as part of coal phaseout efforts.

Energy grids, according to von der Leyen, are enormously important for designing a sustainable, green future.

The start of works to modernize the Niš-Brestovac section of the railway Corridor 10 is the plan already at work in Serbia

The start of works to modernize the Niš-Brestovac section of the railway Corridor 10 is the Economic and Investment Plan already at work in Serbia, said von der Leyen during her visit to the country. Corridor 10 is connecting Serbia with Austria and Greece, and is a motor for Serbia’s economy, trade, and investment, according to her.

In Montenegro, von der Leyen said the EU is ready to support the construction of a railway line linking the country’s capital Podgorica with the Albanian capital city Tirana. The plan for Montenegro also includes the expansion of hydropower plant (HPP) Piva and the construction of HPP Komarnica.

Von der Leyen also visited Albania, where projects envisaged by the plan include the rehabilitation of HPP Fierza and the construction of HPP Skavica.

Von der Leyen commended North Macedonia for launching a green deal campaign

Projects in North Macedonia include a wastewater treatment plant in the capital city, Skopje, but also wind park and solar power plant investments. The best projects in North Macedonia, according to von der Leyen, include a solar panel plant, though she did not name it.

She also commended North Macedonia for the launch of the country’s Green Deal campaign, saying it would bring it closer to the EU.

The EU could help build a wastewater treatment plant in Pristina

In Kosovo*, she mentioned the EU’s support to the construction of a wastewater treatment plant in Pristina, as well as the ongoing construction of Rail Route 10. The plan also envisages the construction of the Ibër-Lepenc Hydro System Phase II.

The Economic and Investment Plan also envisages the European Commission’s proposal to expand the EU’s building Renovation Wave program to the Western Balkans, as well as projects for regional waste management systems in Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

* 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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