The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Republic of Belarus today endorsed the financing by EIB of key infrastructure projects in Belarus, including the upgrade of some connectivity projects between the country and its EU neighbours. The EIB activities in Belarus were discussed by the EU bank’s Vice-President and Member of the Management Committee, Alexander Stubb, and the Belarus Prime Minister, Andrei Kobyakov, during the Belarus-EU Economic Forum in Luxembourg. The Forum was also attended by European Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
The Infrastructure projects that the EIB is willing to support include the upgrade of international transport corridors, municipal and environmental infrastructure, including energy water and wastewater, and climate action projects. The EIB is already involved in appraising the upgrade of a highway from Minsk to the Lithuanian border in parallel financing with the World Bank. This is an example of EIB’s role in supporting connectivity between the EU and Eastern partnership countries in order to foster trade, economic growth, mobility, as well as – in this case – road safety which will have a beneficial impact on the daily life of ordinary citizen. Other areas of interest include support for the private sector and SMEs, notably through local banks and local industrial groups.
EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb said: “We believe that by combining forces, the EU, the EIB and other International Financing Institutions active in Belarus can make a difference and provide a boost for economic development in this important country. Today’s Economic Forum and the meetings with the Belarusian Prime Minister represent a further step in the EIB commitment to support strategic investment projects in Belarus, after the Framework Agreement on cooperation signed in May this year”.
Belarus Prime Minister, Andrei Kobyakov, commented: “This year we have signed the Framework Agreement, which allows the European Investment Bank to carry out activities in the Republic of Belarus and laid down the basis for our partnership. This is a landmark event in strengthening cooperation between Belarus and the Bank as well as the European Union in general. We have always expressed our interest in working with the Bank. We consider the EIB as an important and serious partner with significant investment resources, best practices and knowledge”.
The Eastern Partnership, Belarus and the EIB
EIB has gained a more than ten-year experience in the Eastern Partnership region, which include six EU neighbouring countries. To date, close to EUR 8bn of loans was provided to Eastern Partnership countries for infrastructure, local private sector development and climate action projects. Belarus has been since November 2016 on the list of countries eligible for EIB financing under its external lending mandate. A Framework Agreement on Cooperation between EIB and Belarus was signed in May 2017 and ratified by the Parliament of the Republic of Belarus in July, opening the way for an increased EU and EIB engagement with Belarus.