34th WBIF Project Financiers’ Group (PFG) Meeting, 11 November 2022
On 11 November, the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) held its 34th Project Financiers’ Group Meeting (PFG) virtually. The meeting co-chaired by EC-NEAR and EIB, was attended by over 100 participants from the European Commission, financial institutions (EIB, EBRD, CEB, KfW, WBG, AFD, EIF and IFC), the bilateral donors and all six Western Balkan beneficiaries.
The meeting started with a presentation of the balance of the EWBJF by EBRD and of the outcomes of the screening and assessment of TA Round 28 and the INV Round 7. In response to the energy crisis, INV Round 7 had an extended deadline for energy projects addressing Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy generation. All in all, 12 INV grant applications for a total grant consideration of €390 million were screened and assessed positively. Half of these flagship investments address renewable energy generation, in response to the current energy crisis. Five TA grant applications for a total grant consideration of €10.4 million were also screened and assessed positively.
The selected INV and TA grant applications will be submitted for endorsement by the WBIF Strategic and Operational Board at the 3rd SOB Meeting on 5 December 2022, where the 2nd Call for Private Sector blending will also be launched.
The updates on the 1st Call for the EFSD+ Guarantee Facility for the Western Balkans were presented at the PFG session dedicated to private sector. Guarantees are a cornerstone of the EIP as they have the potential to raise investments of up to €20 billion. Out of the 70 proposals submitted, three concern exclusively the Western Balkans and five of them contribute to ease the energy crisis in the region. These proposals will be submitted for endorsement to the WBIF Operational Board for the Guarantee Facility on 5 December.
In the policy and strategy session, in the afternoon, participants learned about the importance of the acceleration of implementation of INV projects due to the energy and cost of living crisis. To this end, the EC President Ursula von der Leyen visited the region end October and announced unrivalled EU Energy Support Package, with immediate relief for the WB economies and a way forward, assisting WB economies in with budget support already this winter and with the energy transition as short- and medium-term goals. IFIs presented their activities to this end and demonstrated their commitment to the region and the energy transition.
Solar power plant Oslomej 1, North Macedonia (c) WBIF, October 2022
The WBIF is becoming more and more prominent as flexible financial vehicle to adapt and address, in partnership with the beneficiary economies and IFIs, the major challenges. This was COVID response in 2020, whereas an important effort was put in place by all of us to support the region. And it is now the energy support package, whereas €500 million from WBIF projects and grants will be oriented towards key areas to face the consequences in of the Russia invasion on citizens and the economy.
Wind park Bogdanci, North Macedonia (c) WBIF, October 2022
Finally, the WBIF Key Achievements 2021 (Annual Report) and “Hard milestone” table of key EIP INV projects were presented. A review meeting was announced for the 18 November where EC-NEAR, IFIs and the beneficiaries will review project progress and discuss the implementation targets for 2023, identify bottlenecks and agree on strategies and concrete actions how to address them.
Further documents below: