The EU Intends to Intensify its Dialogue with the Western Balkan CountriesBulgaria in EU | September 9, 2019, Monday // 15:48| views
The European Union intends to intensify its dialogue with the Western Balkan countries in order to explain the benefits of funding through the direct major instruments for EU infrastructure projects. At the same time, it calls on these countries, when attracting investment from other partners that help the region, to pay particular attention to meeting EU standards.
EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said that financing EU infrastructure projects involves the provision of grants and loans with attractive interest rates. This approach is different from Chinese financing, which is provided exclusively in the form of loans with significant financial implications. Governments therefore need to be careful that these investments do not lead to high indebtedness to economies, which could lead to control over the transfer of strategic resources and resources in the future.
The Western Balkans region has a clear European perspective and it is clear that part of this process involves the modernization of infrastructure in these countries.
According to the EU, investments in the region must be in accordance with high standards of procurement and transparency. It is underlined that the European Union expects Western Balkan partners to fulfill their commitments under the Stabilization and Association Agreements, especially with regard to state aid and public procurement, and to protect the fiscal sustainability of their economies and investments.
Maja Kocijancic emphasized that the EU is the region's largest partner in terms of trade and investment: 70% of the Western Balkan countries' trade is with the EU, and 60% of foreign direct investment in the region comes from the EU.
At the same time, less than 6% of the region's trade and foreign investment comes from China.
Since 2015, the European Union has stepped up its support for developing connectivity in the region with over € 3.2 billion in investment, which has created new jobs and integrated the region's infrastructure with the pan-European network in order to increase its economic potential and the competitiveness of the region.