The European Union (EU) has reportedly announced an investment of over $500.6 million (€500 million) for improving the energy infrastructure in Western Balkans, stated President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in North Macedonia, during the first stop of a tour of the region.
The announcement comes as Europe's economies which are already grappling with rising inflation are experiencing shockwaves from increasing energy prices brought on by Russia's war in Ukraine and the onset of winter.
As per von der Leyen, the help begins with an immediate budget support of $80.1 million (€80 million) for North Macedonia to assist in addressing the impact of the high energy prices.
Leyen further claimed that there is more to come with an instance that there are $501.9 million (€500 million) in grants to be invested in energy connections, energy efficiency and, renewable energy for the whole region while highlighting the importance of removing the reliance on Russia for fossil fuels.
Apparently, part of the support will be provided via the joint purchase of gas on the global market.
North Macedonia’s Prime Minister, Dimitar Kovacevski revealed that the energy and economic crisis caused due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had united Europe. Dimitar further stated that this crisis could be handled only with unity.
Notably, this news will offer relief to many countries across the Western Balkans, along with North Macedonia, where domestic production of electricity suffices only two-thirds of the country’s annual needs.
As per reports, most countries in the Western Balkans, comprising North Macedonia, are facing challenges in potentially penetrating the EU, while some nations are already on the list for candidature for accession for over a decade.
However, despite the long accession process, EU officials have always notified that Western Balkan countries are a part of the European family.
Sources also reveal that the EU Commission Chief will visit Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia in the coming days.
Source credit - https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/eu-announces-e500-million-energy-support-package-for-western-balkans/