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J. Joksimović, Várhelyi and WB ministers on Economic and Investment Plan

October 01 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović, Várhelyi and WB ministers on Economic and Investment Plan

Minister of European Integration and National IPA coordinator Jadranka Joksimović has participated today in a video-conference of the foreign affairs and European integration ministers from the region with the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi, which was organised to present the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.

Presenting the draft Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which should be adopted next week in the European Commission, and soon afterwards along with the Progress Report presented during his visit to the region and Belgrade, Várhelyi has reiterated the importance that the EU attaches to the region.

He has emphasised that the Plan was prepared with the intention to ensure sustainable and stable development of the Western Balkans region in the circumstances of strong impact of COVID-19 pandemic to the region’s economic and social development. 

This Plan, as recalled in the press release, has been announced in the scope of the new methodology of negotiations as an all-inclusive incentive package for a more credible EU enlargement and EU accession of candidate countries and it should have been announced on 6 May at the EU and WB leaders’ summit, but due to concerting of the multiannual financial framework of the EU it has been postponed until autumn.

Economic and Investment Plan envisages the EU investments in the priority areas and projects which should contribute to further connectivity of the region as well as improved connections with the EU, which will expand economic cooperation and accessibility of the EU market, stimulate the enhancement of the business environment and prevent youth brain drain from the region. 

“The Plan is a significant and very concrete proof that the Western Balkans region represents an area of strategic importance for the EU. By allocating significant funds from the budget, the EU will aid the construction of key regional infrastructure and development of the private sector which will support more intense economic cooperation and stronger integration of the region into European and global economic flows and processes”, said Joksimović. 

The Plan envisages support of the realisation of projects which should contribute to the development of transport, energy and digital infrastructure and thus stimulate stronger connectivity within the region and wider with the EU. 

In addition to, as mentioned, significant investments into small and medium-sized enterprises have been planned, the improvement of business environment and market economy which will create the conditions for a more intense growth and development of the private sector and its competitiveness.

Moreover, the support is planned for the areas which contribute to social development such as education, employment and health with special focus on the youth needs.

The Plan also envisages significant investments in the development of infrastructure in the area of environment, such as water supply system, waste water treatment, solid waste management, emission reduction of waste gases in line with the EU Green Agenda which would ensure better quality of environment for the citizens of Serbia and the region.

The Plan realisation would be funded, as mentioned in the press release, through a combination of EU grants and favourable loans of international financial institutions including EIB and EBRD. 

It is expected that through the combination of these funds, especially through provision of guarantees, both commercial and private sector would be encouraged to fund some projects which would significantly increase total investments in the region.

The Minister has expressed special gratitude to Várhelyi for the continuous support the EU is providing to Serbia and the region in implementation of the key reforms.

Source: Tanjug