Western Balkans Investment Framework

Podgorica, 21 December 2017 – The West Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) is a facility supporting socio-economic development and the EU accession process of the Western Balkan countries, by providing technical assistance for strategic investments in the transport, energy, environmental and social sectors and private-sector development initiatives. In order to use funds through an instrument such as the WBIF, Montenegro must plan investments carefully and in a timely manner, according to the joint conclusion from the WBIF conference “Experiences and Possibilities”. The conference was organised by the Ministry of European Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the financial support of the EU.

So far, 35 national projects have been approved for Montenegro, worth a total of €40 million. The Head of Cooperation in the Delegation of the European Union, Hermann Spitz, emphasised how important development of Montenegro and the region is for the EU.

“The calls for technical assistance (18 rounds so far) and investments (four rounds so far) are foreseen for project studies and for funding their eventual implementation in response to countries’ aspirations to extend core network corridors to the Western Balkans, ensuring closer integration with the EU as well as being the basis for leveraging investment in infrastructure,” said Spitz.

Spitz reminded that Montenegro had received €20 million in technical assistance for two large infrastructure projects – construction of a wastewater plant in Podgorica and the rebuilding of the railway, but he also pointed out that some opportunities had been lost, such as financing for Bijelo Polje and Ulcinj, whose requirements were not met by the appropriate deadline. He pointed out that an important step that was provided by the national authorities was the adoption of a single list of infrastructure projects that the country wants to implement in the upcoming period. "The size of the figures are very ambitious, even for countries with a stronger financial capacity than Montenegro. For this reason long-term planning, a strategic approach and vision have to be established and pursued, for which the limited national resources have to be carefully distributed, and accompanied by careful donor coordination,” said Spitz.

The Minister of European Affairs, Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic, pointed out that in the context of the Berlin Process, the EU has approved €54 million for the co-financing of three infrastructure projects with a total amount of €218 million. According to Pejovic, Montenegro plans to apply for new projects in the forthcoming period through the West Balkan Investment Framework and the Berlin Mechanism process.

The Minister of the Economy, Dragica Sekulic, said that of the 35 technical assistance projects, six are in the field of energy. "In the previous period, we used €7 million of technical assistance for the preparation of various projects in the field of energy, which are primarily projects in the field of electricity and natural gas," she said. Sekulic reminded that, through the WBIF, €25 million in non-refundable support had been granted for the construction of the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor, a transmission network that ensures Montenegro’s connection with Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Minister of Transport and Marine Affairs, Osman Nurkovic, pointed out that the traffic sector in Montenegro is a leader in terms of the number of projects financed through the WBIF, because 13 projects worth €20 million were being supported.

The Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Pavle Radulović, emphasised the importance of financial support for the implementation of the most important infrastructure projects in the field of environmental protection.

"In the two calls for technical assistance we withdrew €700,000 plus €540,000 for water supply and wastewater treatment projects in 10 municipalities," Radulovic concluded.