Over the past 12 years the transport sector in the Western Balkans 6 countries has received considerable investment estimated at €12.2 billion by the South-East Europe Transport Observatory (SEETO). Road (9.9 billion) and rail (1.8 billion) account for the bulk of that effort.
Nevertheless, the latest WBIF-supported 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 and Corridors in the WB6 countries. This will enhance connectivity within the region and with the EU network. SEETO has estimated priority projects’ costs at €7.7 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 200.000 jobs.
The WBIF provides grants to develop projects that are part of the SEETO networks and investment grants to co-finance construction. Only Core network projects are eligible for investment grants and can make use of the approximately €1 billion available from IPA II for connectivity co-financing over the 2015-2020 period. WBIF also supports the REBIS study, a key regional transport planning tool. Finally, it liaises with SEETO on implementation progress of the transport “soft measures” agreed by the WB6 countries in 2015.