The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Republic of Belarus have endorsed the financing by the EIB of key infrastructure projects in Belarus, including the upgrade of a number of 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 at the end of October. 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. Other areas of interest include support for the private sector and SMEs, notably through local banks and local industrial groups.
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.
“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,” said EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb.
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.”
The EIB has gained a more than ten-year experience in the Eastern Partnership region, which include six EU neighbouring countries. Since November 2016, Belarus has been 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.
The EU supports SMEs and private sector development in Belarus through its EU4Business initiative, with funding focused on improving access to finance and foreign markets, building business skills and encouraging entrepreneurship.