EU Commission launches 3.2 bln euro investment package for Western Balkans

European commission.

TIRANA (Albania), February 28 (SeeNews) - The European Commission (EC) said it will mobilise 3.2 billion euro ($3.6 billion) in funding to back 21 transport, digital, climate and energy connectivity projects in the six Western Balkans countries which are expected to start with implementation by the end of 2023.

The financial package includes 1.1 billion euro in EU grants from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance 2021-2027 (IPA III), additional bilateral contributions from EU Member States and Norway, and favourable loans from international financing institutions, the Commission said in a statement on Friday.

The funding will support major road and railway transport projects, including the Mediterranean, East-West, and Rhine-Danube corridors and the rail corridor between North Macedonia's Skopje and the Bulgarian border.

The financial package also targets projects for the construction of solar power plants and wastewater treatment plants and the Trans-Balkan Electricity Transmission Corridor, as well as development of rural broadband infrastructure and construction of a new building of a university children's hospital.

The funding will be disbursed through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), an EU-led multi-donor investment platform.

The investment package is part of EU's Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which the Commission adopted in October 2020. Over the following years, the Economic and Investment Plan is set to mobilise up to 30 billion euro of investments as a combination of grants, preferential loans and guarantees.

($ = 0.8922 euro)

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