The European Commission has now approved the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which aims to accelerate the long-term economic recovery of the region, promote a green and digital transition and enable regional and EU integration.
EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, said: ‘Today we are presenting our Economic and Investment plan for the Western Balkans to boost economic development and recovery of the region. We will mobilise up to €9 billion of funding for investment flagships in the areas of transport, energy, green and digital transition, to create sustainable growth and jobs. The Plan also offers a path for a successful regional economic integration to help accelerate convergence with the EU and close the development gap between our regions, ultimately speeding up the process of EU integration. This plan should help to transform the Western Balkans into one of the most attractive regions for investments in the world. Implementation of course will need to go hand in hand with reforms.’
Along with the Economic Investment Plan the Commission has released guidelines for a Green Agenda in the Western Balkans, which will likely be adopted at the Western Balkans Summit in Sofia in November 2020. The Green Agenda focuses on five key areas:
- climate action, including decarbonisation, energy and mobility;
- circular economy, addressing in particular waste, recycling, sustainable production and efficient use of resources;
- biodiversity, aiming to protect and restore the natural wealth of the region;
- fighting air, water and soil pollution;
- and sustainable food systems and rural areas.
On top of this funding, the EU can provide guarantees through the Western Balkans Guarantee facility. This will reduce the risk for investors with potential investments of up to €20 billion over the next decade.
These reforms will be key for sustainable economic development in the region.
Original article first published 6 October 2020 by the European Commission.
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