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EIB Group reaffirms commitment to financing in the Western Balkans

    Date: 14 July 2017

The European Investment Bank (EIB) Group has confirmed its role as one of the leading international financiers in the Western Balkans. It has signed EUR 6.4 billion of loans since 2006 and reimbursed around EUR 1.2 billion to projects in the region only in the last two years. An EIB Group delegation, led by EIB President Werner Hoyer and EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco has participated yesterday in the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste (Italy). In several meetings and the official dinner with heads of states and governments, the EIB representatives reaffirmed their commitment to further support the region on its path towards European integration.

The European Investment Fund (EIF, part of the EIB Group for venture capital, private equity and guarantees targeted to SME sector) signed an initial cornerstone commitment in Ascendant Buy-Out Fund, a private equity fund with a target size of EUR 100 million focusing on lower midmarket companies in the Western Balkans.

EIF also signed a letter of intent for an additional injection of funding from the European Commission to the WBEDIF Guarantee Facility, including EUR 20 million for Serbian SMEs and EUR 10 million for supporting youth employment in the region.

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “EIF is pleased to be contributing to the development of private equity infrastructure in the Western Balkans region by supporting a new independent manager in this underserved market. Our investment in the Fund under the COSME mandate, was crucial in attracting other local and international investors, allowing the Fund to materialise. The EIF welcomes an additional EUR 30m of EU funding for the Western Balkans guarantee facility – one dedicated for Serbia and one specifically for youth employment. The Western Balkans guarantee facility is one of multiple initiatives rolled out under WB EDIF - a dedicated private sector development platform for the region. The continued support of WB EDIF and the deployment of additional EU Resources such as COSME, help attract greater private sector investment, contributing to the development of SMEs in the Western Balkans.”

During the event, there was a special focus is the Economic Resilience Initiative (ERI), the instrument launched by the EIB in 2016 in the context of the wave of migration into the EU. The ERI is intensifying EIB support to the EU’s neighbourhood, in particular the Southern Neighbourhood and the Balkans. It is addressing social and economic infrastructure gaps and private sector-led growth and job creation. Thanks to the Resilience Initiative, the EIB is increasing its financing to these regions by EUR 6 billion over a five-year period – over and above the 7.5 billion of euro already envisaged – to catalyse up to 15 billion of additional investments in both the Southern Neighbourhood and the Western Balkans. This will bring the total EIB mobilisation of investment in these regions to some 35 billion. Tentatively, a third of this investment will be dedicated to the Western Balkans region.

At the summit, EIB Group representatives signed operations totaling EUR 70 million across the region, including a EUR 50 million loan with Serbia in the context of the Resilience Initiative. Furthermore, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding providing the framework to strengthen the cooperation between the EIB and Government of Kosovo* in the sectors of transport, energy, municipal and environmental infrastructure, climate action, education, health and innovation and SMEs.

In these times of economic and social challenges, the EIB is committed to build resilience, to support investments and increase financing needed in the Western Balkans. The quick implementation of the European Resilience Initiative is reflected in the projects approved by the EU Bank so far: 1.2 billion Euro covering seven countries. Of these, 162 million are dedicated for the Western Balkans: in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and now also in Serbia. Moreover, as leading player in transport infrastructure finance the EIB has invested EUR 2.1 billion in the Western Balkans in the last decade, and will continue to help addressing these issues also financing projects on the Connectivity Agenda. Transport infrastructure is key to growth and competitiveness as it provides the physical networks that enable the movement of people and goods. Better mobility achieves social cohesion, economic growth and employment”, EIB President Werner Hoyer said.

Since 2011 we have signed contracts worth EUR 3.4 billion in the region. An interesting pipeline of potential operations is developing in several sectors: transport, energy, environment and health. But we do not only support big projects. Enabling and ensuring investment of SMEs is also a key part of our activity: in the last five years we financed 4,888 SMEs and Midcaps with a total investment of 1.35 billion euro”, noted Dario Scannapieco, the EIB Vice-President responsible for the Western Balkans and the Resilience Initiative.

In detail, during the Summit the EIB signed a EUR 50 million loan for the Clinical Centres in Nis, Belgrade, Novi Sad and Kragujevac that will help address infrastructure gaps in the health sector in Serbia.

Notes to the editor


The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the EIB group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.


The EIB is the EU’s long-term lending institution and is owned by the EU Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment, contributing to growth, jobs, regional convergence and climate action in Europe and beyond.

COSME Equity Facility for Growth (EFG)

The Equity Facility for Growth (EFG) is dedicated to investments in risk-capital funds that provide venture capital and mezzanine finance to expansion and growth-stage SMEs, in particular those operating across borders. It is expected that some 500 firms will receive equity financing through the programme, with overall investment reaching up to EUR 4 billion. The EFG is part of COSME, the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020. It has a total budget of EUR 2.3 billion and at least 60% of the programme will be devoted to improving access to finance for SMEs in Europe. Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing: www.access2finance.eu.


The Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) is an EU funded initiative which aims at increasing the financial resources made available to SMEs based in the Western Balkans, as well as support services for private sector development, to support socio-economic development and EU accession across the Regions. The EUR 145 million of capital pulled together under this Facility by the EU, international financial institutions (IFIs), beneficiaries and bilateral donors will effectively translate into over EUR 300 million of direct financing for SMEs in the region. The Guarantee Facility forms one pillar of WB EDIF and targets SMEs with growth potential and in need of lending to cover financing for both investment and working capital.

The Facility is coordinated by the EIF and implemented in close cooperation between the governments of the Western Balkans, the European Commission, the EIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). IFIs, international organisations and bilateral donors active in the region, such as the World Bank, DEG, OECD and others participating in order to streamline the efforts to develop the private sector in the Western Balkans.

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