23rd Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) Steering Committee Meeting 10-11 December 2020
The Western Balkans Investment Framework held its 23rd WBIF Steering Committee Meeting on 10 and 11 December. Due to the COVID-19 situation, this meeting was held virtually. Over 200 participants from the Western Balkans beneficiaries, the European Commission, Financial Institutions (AfD, CEB, EBRD, EIB, EIF, KfW, WBG), Bilateral Donors from Member States and Norway, the Energy Community Secretariat (ECS), the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community (TCS) and the WB Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) attended the two day sessions.
The first day of the meeting focused on policy and strategies and was co-chaired by Ms Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director-General, DG NEAR and WBIF Bilateral Donors' representative Mr Harald Waiglein, Director General for Economic Policy, Financial Markets & Customs Duties, Federal Ministry of Finance, Austria. Mr Rolf Wenzel, Governor of Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) addressed the Steering Committee as hosting partner.
The honourable guest of the meeting, Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, presented the Economic Investment Plan for the Western Balkans and emphasised the WBIF is a driving force behind the implementation. High-Level representatives from Western Balkans shared their views on the Plan they recently endorsed in Sofia in occasion of the Western Balkans Summit.
Ms Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director Western Balkans, DG NEAR provided an overview of developments in the region. WBIF Bilateral Donors' representative Ms Elisabeth Gruber, Head of Department for International Financial Institutions, Federal Ministry of Finance, Austria provided a joint statement to the Steering Committee. Ms Mathernová moderated the further discussion on the Economic Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, and Ms Ruiz Calavera presented the European Commission perspective on key aspects for success of the Plan inviting representatives of financial institutions to share their views on the Plan implementation. First day of the meeting was concluded by Ms Mathernová with the discussion on the WBIF transition to IPA III.
On day two, Mr Colin Wolfe, Head of the Western Balkans Regional Cooperation Unit in DG NEAR chaired the two-session meeting.
During the session on Infrastructure, the EBRD presented the status update of the European Western Balkans Joint Fund, and Bilateral donors' pledges were presented; pledges by Sweden (SEK30 Million), Norway (NOK24.5M), Austria (€2M) and an additional pledge by Germany (€0.4M on top of the previous €1M) resulted in around €10M in pledges by the Bilateral Donors in 2020. The WBIF Steering Committee then approved €15.3M in technical assistance grants for 11 projects from TA Round 24 and under INV Round 5, €129.3M were approved for 6 projects as final instalment of the Connectivity Agenda and first instalment of the European Investment Plan. In addition, 2 ENV and 1 SOC INV projects were approved, to be financed by Bilateral Donor contributions, over €9.2M. The European Commission presented an Action Plan for speeding up procedures and tackling delays, as well as the updated eligibility criteria for the TA Round 25.
During the session on the Private Sector Development, the European Commission, the EIF and EBRD updated on theimplementation package of COVID-19 response under the WB EDIF. The two day meeting concluded with the overview of activities of Green for Growth Fund (GGF) and the Western Balkans Enterprise Development & Innovation Facility (WB EDIF).
More details (agenda, presentations) can be found on the WBIF website in Library.
The video on the Economic Investment Plan and the Connectivity agenda here.