Development banks launch 30-bn-euro E. Europe plan

Three major international development banks on Thursday announced investment plans of more than 30 billion euros ($38 billion) to boost economic growth in central and southeastern Europe over the period 2013-14.

The World Bank, European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said in a statement that the investment was "a direct response to the continuing impact of eurozone problems on the economies of emerging Europe."

The three "today agreed on a new joint action plan, aimed at supporting economic recovery and growth in central and southeastern Europe.

"The action plan, a direct response to the continuing impact of eurozone problems on the economies of emerging Europe, includes more than 30 billion euros of joint commitments for the period 2013-2014."

The plan aims to rekindle growth in the region by supporting private and public sector initiatives, including infrastructure, corporate investment and the financial sector, as an earlier programme did for Central Europe.

That 2010 programme was worth 24.5 billion euros over two years, with results exceeding original targets, the statement said.

The EIB committed to provide 20 billion euros for the new plan, mainly in long-term loans for the private and public sector, addressing priority areas such as small- and medium-sized businesses, renewable energy and energy efficiency, innovation and convergence.

"I strongly welcome the coordinated effort of our institutions. I believe that each one, in its own area of expertise, can contribute," EIB president Werner Hoyer said in the statement.

"The EIB, as the bank of the EU, will support growth and employment in the region and always keeping the need to improve long term competitiveness as the guiding factor."

Another 6.5 billion euros will come from the World Bank which noted how the debt crisis continued to "threaten growth and jobs, particularly in Central and South Eastern Europe."

The EBRD, set up to help the former Communist countries of eastern Europe make the transition to market economies, will offer 4.0 billion euros.

"While the world's eyes are fixed on the problems on Western Europe, the legitimate requirements of emerging Europe, which has staked so much in the name of economic and financial integration, must not be neglected," it said.

The proposed funding will be available to Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, FYR Macedonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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