Support to Coordination with International Financial Institutions and bilateral donors in the Western Balkans (IFICO 3)
Title: Horizontal Support to Coordination with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and bilateral donors in the Western Balkans
Commissioned by: European Commission, General Directorate for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations
Financier: European Union (EU)
Country: Regional (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia)
Partner: Mott MacDonald
Lead executing agency: European Commission, General Directorate for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations
Overall term: 2018 to 2020
In 2017, the European Council held a discussion on the Western Balkans and acknowledged the “fragile situation” in the region and the “internal and external challenges the region is facing”, while at the same time reaffirming the Union’s commitment to strengthening the prosperity, stability, and security of the Western Balkans. In this context, the identified fragility in the region stems from an interplay of external and internal challenges. The internal fragilities countries in the Western Balkans are facing stem from their weak economic performances, with their GDP being close to only one third of the EU-28 average, and significant gaps in many aspects of a functional democratic system. The Western Balkans share many structural obstacles for the creation of fully functioning and competitive market economies. The regional medium-term planning emphasises the need for large-scale infrastructure projects.
The Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) was launched in 2009 with the objective of supporting socio-economic development and EU accession across the Western Balkans through the provision of financing and technical assistance for strategic investments. It pools resources from the European Commission’s Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) with those of International Financial Institutions (IFIs), bilateral donors and the governments of the Western Balkans. The WBIF increases the region’s capacity to finance crucial infrastructure and priority investments in line with accession priorities and enhances overall coordination of assistance.
The WBIF is a regional blending facility supporting EU enlargement and socio-economic development in the Western Balkans providing financing and technical assistance to strategic investments in the following sectors: energy, environment, social, transport and private sector development. These investments contribute to the achievement of strategic priorities defined in national, regional and EU accession policies. Whilst the implementation of infrastructure projects is at the core of the activities of WBIF, a holistic perspective on all areas improving the “business enabling environment” has grown in importance. Today WBIF works as an umbrella for regional strategic orientation extended to Energy Efficiency and Renewables Regional Facilities (REEP, GGF) and to the private sector development Programs (EDIF, EFSE) on the other.
The ‘Berlin Process’ is a political initiative that arose at the High-Level Conference on the Western Balkans held in Berlin in August 2014. The process is marked by yearly summits that underline the commitment to EU enlargement towards the Western Balkans. The new approved Agenda - known as the “Connectivity Agenda” aims at enhancing regional cooperation and connectivity in the Western Balkans by:
- Supporting regional initiatives and infrastructure projects that enhance connectivity: complex transport and energy infrastructure investments, which aim to create links between the Western Balkan countries and the core European networks;
- Promoting institutional and governance reforms aiming at defining national priorities and at matching them with the regional ones;
- Using existing financing programmes such as the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) to coordinate and support such investments.
Since 2015, the EU set aside up to 1 billion EUR in grants until 2020, from the IPA, to support this ‘Connectivity Agenda.’ Since the Berlin Summit Western Balkan countries made significant progress on the connectivity agenda.
The project mobilises services to provide technical, administrative, visibility and communication support to WBIF structures including the Steering Committee, Project Financiers' Group, WBIF Secretariat and National Investment Committees in Beneficiary countries.
The availability of the provided support is deemed crucial to the continued success of the WBIF and cooperation between IPA beneficiaries, European Commission, IFIs and bilateral donors. The IFICO also provides technical assistance to the NIPACs in the Western Balkans in order to identify a pipeline of priority investments to be funded by IFIs, the European Commission and bilateral donors.
Result 1: Beneficiaries enabled to identify a pipeline of priority investments to be funded by IFIs, the EC and bilateral donors.
- Provide technical assistance to NIPAC/NIC offices, line ministries and project promoters in the Western Balkans in identification of priority infrastructure projects (e.g. revision of the Single Project Pipeline);
- Provide ad hoc training identified during the implementation period to relevant authorities in order to meet specific and urgent needs in the region;
- Coordinate the activities of the country managers located in the Beneficiary countries.
Result 2: Strengthened cooperation, communication and policy coordination amongst WBIF stakeholders in developing and implementing priority investments in the Western Balkans.
- Contribute to strategy discussions and activities under the WBIF and wider European Commission /IFIs /bilateral donors’ cooperation;
- Provide support services to the WBIF structures including the Steering Committee, Project Financiers' Group and the WBIF Secretariat;
- Reviews or studies related to the WBIF sectors, WBIF actions or tasks linked to future development of the WBIF
- Organisation of regional meetings, workshops, study visits in strategically important areas;
- Organise workshops/seminars on specific topics for the various WBIF stakeholders including capacity building events for Beneficiaries;
- Perform analyses on relevant topics such as WBIF sectors or across key WBIF sectors such as on connectivity (transport and energy sector) in the WB6 region;
- Provide advice and guidance on specific sector, regional or country topics including advice on regional /sectorial organisations and programmes and participate in meetings and other activities related to these organisations and programmes as appropriate;
- Prepare and disseminate discussion papers.
- Provide assistance to the management of Enterprise Development and Innovation Fund (EDIF)
Result 3: Enhanced functioning of the WBIF throughout the entire project cycle from project identification to realisation of the investments supported by the WBIF.
- Support the WBIF Secretariat in organising meetings of all WBIF structures – mainly the Steering Committee and the Project Financiers' Group;
- Support the Beneficiaries in identifying and developing project applications in line with the overall objectives of WBIF and recommendations of the Steering Committee; Support the WBIF Secretariat in launching regular calls for proposals for WBIF support and the following screening and assessment process of applications;
- Ensure smooth functioning of the screening, assessment and approvals process; monitor the implementation of approved projects in cooperation with the European Commission, IFIs and Beneficiaries;
- Produce regular progress reports and analyses on the implementation of the portfolio of projects supported by the WBIF;
- Further develop and maintain the database – Management and Information System (MIS) - for investments supported by the WBIF in the Western Balkans, draft a manual for MIS use for IFIs and liaise with IFIs on MIS improvements (data management, storage, quality, updates, etc);
- Draft terms of reference and technical specifications for grants to be implemented by the Infrastructure Project Facilities;
- Ensure dissemination of relevant information with the EU delegations in the Western Balkans.
Result 4: Improved visibility and communication among all WBIF stakeholders; greater public awareness of the assistance being provided by the WBIF financiers.
- Further develop and maintain the WBIF website as the portal for information on European Commission, IFI and bilateral donor activities in the Western Balkans in the areas of transport, energy, environment and social infrastructure sectors as well as private sector development;
- Organise publicity and visibility events for the WBIF supported projects;
- Prepare, publish and circulate regular WBIF reports i.e. Monitoring Report (six monthly), WBIF Annual Report, WBIF brochures and other visibility material;
- Organise visibility and communications events for various groupings of WBIF stakeholders