The European Investment Bank (EIB) is financing the construction of the Belgrade-Niš railway, as announced yesterday at a press conference by this major international creditor. This project is part of a larger investment in the renewal of transportation infrastructure in the Western Balkans. EIB Global, the financial branch of the European Investment Bank, invested a record 1.2 billion euros across the Western Balkans in 2023. This is 365 million euros more than in 2022. The investments are intended for sustainable and energy transition projects that support the region’s accession to the European Union (EU), economic and climate goals, as well as connectivity.
Moreover, their investment of 1.2 billion euros is expected to catalyze an additional six billion euros in new investments in the region. These investments will accelerate connectivity, energy transition, and the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), aligning with EU priorities. Since 2010, the EIB has invested over 10 billion euros in the region to assist in the development of local economies.
“The financial resources have been committed to projects within the Economic and Investment Plan and the Global Gateway initiative, a strategic EU instrument aimed at bridging infrastructure gaps and improving living standards. In close collaboration with the European Commission, we are pleased to have secured grants totaling up to 475 million euros within the investment framework for the Western Balkans and the EIB’s initiatives for economic resilience,” said Kirijakos Kakuris, Vice President of the EIB responsible for the region.
The majority of the funds, 58%, amounting to 693 million euros, are allocated for safer and sustainable transportation, specifically for railway sections in Serbia (Belgrade–Niš section) and North Macedonia (Kriva Palanka – Bulgarian border). The bank has also contracted additional financing for the modernization of urban transport in Sarajevo and a project for road rehabilitation and traffic safety improvement in Serbia. To support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Western Balkans, the bank has earmarked 275 million euros (23% of the total financing in 2023). The remaining funds will be directed towards projects in the fields of energy, water supply, health, and education.
“Thanks to the collaboration within the Team Europe framework with our partners in the Western Balkans, the European Commission, and international financial institutions, we have been able to maximize advisory and financial resources for the benefit of the region’s residents. We welcome the launch of the new development plan by the Commission, which will expedite key reforms, bring greater economic prosperity, progress in approaching the European Union, and strengthen initiatives such as the common regional market,” said Vice President Kakuris.
In collaboration with commercial banks and national institutions, EIB Global has secured 275 million euros in the form of favorable loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to assist them in expanding their businesses and creating new jobs, while simultaneously enhancing their social and climate impact. Some credit lines also include climate-related activities, supporting projects in the clean energy sector within the private sector.