Sustainable investments 80.7m. euros will finance the Socio-Economic Transition project of Western Macedonia, announced today by the European Commission with a joint statement by the European Commissioner responsible for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira, the Director of CINEA (European Executive Agency for Climate, Environment and Infrastructures) Paloma Aba Garrote and the Regional Governor of Western Macedonia Giorgos Kasapidis.
The project came into effect on October 27 with the signing of a grant agreement by all parties involved.
This is the first project supported by the Public Sector Loan Facility (PSLF), which together with the Just Transition Fund and InvestEU’s Just Transition programme, forms the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM).
The project will support the financing of sustainable investments of EUR 80.7 million, helping Western Macedonia in its transition away from lignite. According to the agreement, the PSLF offers a grant of €14.5 million, which is complemented by the European Investment Bank (EIB) with a loan of €58 million.
The project aspires to be a positive message about the region’s ability to boost the economy and make a just transition. The initiative coordinated by the region of Western Macedonia brings together 15 projects in six municipalities (Argos Orestikos, Kozani, Kastoria, Florina, Eordaia and Kastoria), all united to achieve the common goal of reducing inequalities between people and places within the region , Promoting:
- the economic diversification of the region,
- increasing the energy efficiency of public infrastructure and reducing energy costs,
- the upgrading of the cultural and touristic infrastructure,
- the improvement of the health infrastructure,
- the upgrading of intra-regional road connections and the strengthening of road safety.
The project is in line with the Just Transition Plan of the Western Macedonia region, which will support a Just Transition after the closure of the lignite industry and improve the regional infrastructure in the fields of energy, transport, health, culture and tourism .
Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, responsible for Regional and Urban Policy, said:
“I commend the Region of Western Macedonia for obtaining the first subsidy granted by the Public Sector Loan Facility under the Just Transition Mechanism. This is our moment to be part of a grassroots change and mobilize all available resources to ensure that the climate transition happens in a fair way, leaving no one and no place behind.”
CINEA Director Paloma Aba Garrote said:
“I am very pleased to see the first grant agreement under the Public Sector Loan Facility coming to fruition. The Western Macedonia Socio-Economic Transition project was selected to help the region meet its development needs in its transition from high-carbon activities and to contribute to Europe’s overall Just Transition to a climate-resilient economy. I look forward to learning about the progress the project will make and the successful results that will be achieved for the benefit of all citizens.”
Giorgos Kasapidis said:
“The opportunity given to the Region and the Municipalities of Western Macedonia to implement necessary projects funded by the EU with a subsidy from the Just Transition Mechanism is very important. In particular, at the beginning of the process of creating the new production model of our region, in the post-lignite era, projects in the areas of energy upgrading, transport, health, culture and tourism can make a decisive contribution to improving the quality of life of citizens, tackling unemployment, strengthening social cohesion and, at the same time, achieving the EU’s goals for a low-carbon economy of growth and energy efficiency.”
The Public Sector Loan Facility (PSLF) is the third pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) – a key European Green Deal Investment Plan to ensure that no one and no region is left behind in the transition to a climate neutral economy .
The PSLF combines loans from the European Investment Bank (up to €10 billion) with grants from the European Commission (up to €1.5 billion). The combination of this support is designed to mobilize additional public sector investment in the regions most affected by the climate transition, as defined in the local Just Transition Plans, to meet their needs in the transition to a climate neutral economy. The combination of the loan from the European Investment Bank and the grant from the European Commission will facilitate the financing of projects that do not generate enough income to cover the cost of their investments.