Nevertheless, the latest Regional Balkans Infrastructure Study - Transport (REBIS) concluded that 30% of the region’s comprehensive road network requires immediate maintenance and/or upgrade. It also identified capacity constraints on more than 30% of the rail network and stressed the urgent need for rail rehabilitation and maintenance.
In 2015, the Western Balkans leaders agreed on the Core transport network for the region and the indicative extension of the EU Core Network Corridors in the Western Balkans. This will enhance connectivity within the region and between the region and the EU. The South-East Europe Transport Observatory (SEETO) has estimated priority projects’ costs at €13.9 billion, while the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies found that such a package could boost regional GDP growth by up to one percentage point per year over 15 years and help create more than 200,000 jobs.
The signing of the Transport Community Treaty in 2017 encourages better planning of transport investments and procedural streamlining. The new Transport Community Secretariat (TCS) is based in Belgrade and replaces SEETO.
The WBIF provides grants to prepare and build projects. Only Core network projects are eligible for investment grants and can make use of the approximately €1 billion EU grant available (IPA II) for connectivity co-financing, over the 2015-2020 period. The WBIF also supports the development of regional studies, such as the REBIS study, a key regional transport planning tool. Finally, it liaises with TCS on implementation of connectivity reform measures as agreed by the Western Balkans partners in 2015.