EU pledges €500 million to improve energy infrastructure in the Western Balkans
During the visit of the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in North Macedonia on her first stop of a tour of the region, she declared that the European Union has announced an energy support package of €500 million to improve energy infrastructure in the Western Balkans.
This package starts with €80 million in immediate budget support for North Macedonia to help tackle the impact of the high energy prices triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to Von der Leyen, this aid package of €500 million in grants will be destined to the whole region and will be invested in energy connections, energy efficiency and renewable energy, with the aim of becoming independent from Russian fossil fuels.
This aid will provide relief to many Western Balkans countries, where their domestic production of electricity meets only two thirds of the country’s annual needs.
It must be taken into account that most countries in the Western Balkans have been negotiating about potentially joining the EU, with some of them still being formal candidates’ status and their stagnation could be used by Russia to grow their influence.
On the other hand, EU officials have repeatedly stated that Western Balkan countries are a part of the European family despite the long process of accession.
The President of the EU Commission is set to visit Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia in the next few days.
Image © European Commission