€1 billion Energy Support Package for the Western Balkans
On 6 December 2022, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the Energy Support Package for the Western Balkans, at the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Tirana. It consists of €1 billion in EU grants to help the Western Balkans addressing the immediate consequences of the energy crisis and build resilience in the short to medium term.
The first half of the package consists of €500 million in budget support to mitigate the economic and social impact on vulnerable households and SMEs and support the energy transition and security of the region.
90% of the funds will be disbursed already in January 2023, while the rest will follow later in 2023/early 2024 against the successful implementation of national action plans, tackling the energy crisis, by the six Western Balkan partners.
The second half of the package consists of €500 million to advance in energy diversification, renewable energy generation and gas and electricity interconnections through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF).
The package covers an allocation of €100 million replenishment of the Regional Energy Efficiency Programme (REEP), another €170 million in EU grants for public and private sector blending, and up to €230 million of EU funding for six guarantee schemes supporting the energy sector. Most of this funding package was already approved by the WBIF Operational Board pertaining to Blending on 5 December 2022 in Brussels.
Windpark Bogdanci, North Macedonia (c) WBIF, October 2022
WBIF 3rd Strategic Board, 3rd Operational Board pertaining to Blending and 2nd Operational Board meeting pertaining to Guarantees
On 5 December, the WBIF held the 3rd Strategic Board, the 3rd Operational Board pertaining to Blending Operations, and the 2nd Operational Board meeting pertaining to Guarantees. More than 100 participants attended, including representatives from 27 EU Member States, the European Council, the European Parliament, Bilateral Donors, representatives of the Western Balkan partners, Norway, International Financial Institutions (EIB, EBRD, CEB, WBG, KfW, AFD, EIF, and IFC), the Energy Community and the Transport Community.
The WBIF Operational Board for Guarantee Operations issued a positive opinion to eight Proposed Investment Programs (PIPs), for a guarantee coverage of up to €544 million. Furthermore, the WBIF Operational Board for Blending Operations endorsed 12 investment grants with a total grant value of €404.5 million. Half of these flagship investments, representing a total grant value of €120 million, are part of the Energy Support Package. In addition, the Operational Board gave a positive opinion to five TA grants, amounting to €10.8 million for infrastructure projects preparation.
The endorsement of these new investment grants and guarantees represents a new push towards the implementation of the Economic and Investment Plan of the Western Balkans.