Albania and the Western Balkans will need up to 70 years to reach EU living standards

Albania and the Western Balkans will need up to 70 years to reach EU living

The Investment Summit in the Western Balkans 2024, organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is taking place today in London.

In this event, the heads of government from 6 countries of the region are present. During the opening of the summit, the president of the EBRD, Odile Renaud-Basso, emphasized that although the region has made considerable progress during the last decade, there is still a significant gap between the region and the European Union.

"According to a new EBRD study on convergence with EU living standards, it is likely to take between 40 and 70 years, or even longer, to close this gap.

This finding critically drives the need to combine public funds with private capital to accelerate convergence. Thus, the EBRD has collaborated with international financial institutions and the European Commission to find ways to include private capital in the main regional infrastructure projects, through PPPs or attracting private investments in the energy sector", stated Renaud-Basso.

She emphasized that it is time to recognize the true economic strengths and potential of the countries of the Western Balkans. Also, she expressed the readiness of the EBRD to cooperate closely with the European Commission and the governments of the region in the implementation of the EU Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, seeing in this an opportunity to bring necessary investments and reforms.

Renaud-Basso also highlighted the great potential of investors in the region, citing favorable corporate income tax regimes, a competitive workforce and the clear prospect of integration into the European Union. She added that the people of the region are well educated, highly qualified and many of them are talented entrepreneurs.

In conclusion, she added that the region should focus on three main priorities.

First , it is necessary for the countries of the Western Balkans to accelerate their greening process. Increased investments in renewable energy, as well as in electrical grids and energy efficiency, will help increase the region's resilience to future challenges in the field of energy and economic competitiveness.

Second , improving the standards of public governance should be a priority, including the reform of state enterprises, the fight against corruption and the use of digital technology.

Third, the spread of spaces for trade and investment is essential. Deeper integration into global value chains will be key to increased competitiveness and innovation.
As the largest international financing organization in the region, the EBRD has invested over 18 billion euros in the region, with a record figure of 1.63 billion euros last year alone./ Monitor

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