The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) Board of Directors has approved a new country strategy for Serbia, guiding its investment and policy initiatives for the next five years.
The EBRD’s three key priorities for Serbia will be: (i) accelerating the green energy transition; (ii) enhancing private-sector competitiveness, productivity and access to finance; and (iii) financing sustainable infrastructure and strengthening regional connectivity.
Under the priority, the EBRD will focus on scaling up renewable energy capacity, particularly through continuing to support the authorities with wind and solar auctions, but also by introducing renewable energy sources into district heating systems. Energy efficiency will also be a primary objective, especially in the context of accelerating building renovations.
Under the second priority, the EBRD will boost small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) competitiveness through access to finance and skills, especially related to the green and digital transitions, as well as through targeted programmes with partner commercial banks to support women- and youth-led enterprises. Innovation will also be a focus and will be pursued by developing the start-up ecosystem and investing in enabling digital infrastructure and in science and technology parks.
Under the third priority, the EBRD will support Serbia in accelerating investments in environmental infrastructure – waste and wastewater management, air quality and irrigation, in particular – maximising opportunities to crowd in private investment and develop the circular economy. The Bank will also continue encouraging the switch to rail transport, especially by financing the main European and regional corridors. Governance will be a key cross-cutting theme and will include helping to raise standards at state-owned enterprises.
Matteo Colangeli, EBRD Regional Director for the Western Balkans, said: “We are pleased with our growing presence and business in Serbia, which this year is set to deliver record investments of more than €800 million. Our new country strategy charts a clear way forward to scale up our partnership with Serbia, contributing to its economic success and convergence towards the European Union.”
Serbia is the largest economy in the Western Balkans and has strong growth potential thanks to its well-diversified economy and its position as a regional hub at the crossroads of international corridors. To date, the EBRD has invested more than €8.7 billion in the country through nearly 350 projects, the majority of which have supported the private sector.