Yesterday, the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced launch of a new program in Serbia “aimed at combating the financial crisis and bringing the country closer to the European Union.” The first loan under the new program is a €250 million loan that is earmarked “for small and medium-sized enterprises and priority projects in the country.” The EIB indicated that this loan "is the first in a series of operations that are expected to see the EIB support Serbia’s real economy in 2009-2010 with loans worth over EUR 1.4bn aimed to support the recovery of Serbian economy and pave the way towards European integration." The EIB simultaneously announced that it entered into a new Framework Agreement with the Serbian government aimed at increasing EIB activity within the country.

The €250 million loan will be disbursed via the National Bank of Serbia and will be on-lent to Serbian commercial banks to “help to fund and support projects by SMEs and local authorities as well [as] investments in the following sectors: industry, infrastructure, energy, environmental protection, knowledge economy, health, education, and services.” The loans may "may cover up to 100% of the cost of each project."

EIB Vice-President Scannapieco remarked that “[t]he EIB has been active in Serbia for many years; however, with the agreements signed today, cooperation between the Bank of European integration and the Serbian government has taken a huge step forward.” He also noted that the EIB’s commitment to Serbia would help the country “combat the recession and make a swifter recovery, thereby adding greater weight each day to that country’s plans of nurturing closer ties with the European Union.”