EU to activate €3 billion once Belarus embarks on a democratic transition
May 31, 2021

EU to activate €3 billion once Belarus embarks on a democratic transition

On 28 May, the European Commission presented to the European Council its outline for a comprehensive plan of economic support to a future democratic Belarus. The plan reflects the EU’s commitment to support the Belarusian people’s wishes for a peaceful democratic transition in the country following the Presidential elections of August 2020, which were neither free nor fair.

Once Belarus embarks on a democratic transition, the EU will activate the €3 billion package aiming to stabilise country’s economy, reform its institutions to make them more democratic and help increase the economy’s resilience, growth potential and job creation.

The newly presented outline highlights several indicative measures to enhance Belarus’ resilience:

  1. The EU will boost the country’s economic recovery through direct financial support. This will help restore macro-economic stability in Belarus and strengthen its precarious fiscal situation. In addition, the EU will organise an EU-Belarus High Level Investment Forum to expand investment and trade opportunities and an EU High Level Donor Meeting to raise additional EU grant resources required to finance and mobilise EU expertise and investments to support the economic transition. With these initiatives, the EU expects to mobilise up to €1.5 billion in EU loans as well as public and private investments.
  2. The EU will mobilise a Transition Package of up to €400 million in grant assistance under the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NCIDI) Global Europe’ – to support the democratic transition and address key structural reforms. This will include enhancing the quality of justice, improving the business environment and supporting SME’s development. EU funding will also aim to contribute to the reform of education and health care systems and provide assistance for strengthening social safety nets and protecting the most vulnerable households. Support to civil society, including enhancing their role in decision-making at all levels of government and work as watchdog and support for a free and independent media, will remain at the core of the EU’s actions.
  3. The EU will invest in sustainable infrastructures and the green and digital transformation. In partnership with International Financial Institutions, the EU expects to mobilise up to €100 million in grant funding to leverage up to €1 billion of key public and private investments supporting the country’s green and digital transformation, connectivity and access to finance for Belarusian SMEs.

To deliver swiftly tangible results to a democratic Belarus and ensure sustainable impact, the EU, including the European Commission will mobilise all tools and instruments available in cooperation with International Financing Institutions to prioritise support to five key flagship investments:

  • Supporting an innovative & competitive economy including through direct support to 20,000 SMEs.
  • Improving transport connectivity & facilitating trade at EU-Belarus borders
  • Boosting innovation & digital transformation, including through an Eastern Partnership IT school in Minsk.
  • Supporting a green Belarus, including through support to energy efficiency, waste management and infrastructure.
  • Investing in a democratic, transparent & accountable Belarus.

In addition and complementary to the economic plan, the EU will offer to conclude a bilateral framework agreement in order to reinforce the longer-term relations between the EU and a democratic Belarus.

“Our messages are twofold. To the people of Belarus: we see and hear your desire for change, for democracy, and for a bright future. And to the Belarusian authorities: no amount of repression, brutality or coercion will bring any legitimacy to your authoritarian regime,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. So far, you have blatantly ignored the democratic choice of the Belarusian people. It is time to change course. When – and we believe it is a case of when, not if – Belarus starts its peaceful democratic transition, the EU will be there to accompany it.”

On 29 May, the EU joined the Global Picket of Solidarity with Belarus. On this occasion, Maciej Popowski, Acting Director General, EU Neighbourhood & Enlargement, issued a video to express the EU’s solidarity with the people of Belarus.

“The brutal offensive on fundamental rights by the authorities in Belarus is intensifying. The number of people in detention, including political prisoners, is growing. The forced landing of the Ryanair flight and the arrest of Mr Pratasevich and Ms Sapega on 23 May show the length to which the Belarusian authorities are willing to go to crush dissent,” said Maciej Popowski. This is unacceptable. The EU has reacted strongly in response. We have sanctioned those responsible for the repressions, and new sanctions are under preparation.

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