EU will activate €3bn package when Belarus embarks on democratic path

The country will use this money to stabilise its economy and to reform its institutions

Photo: EU Ursula von der Leyen.

Once Belarus embarks on a democratic transition, the EU will activate the €3bn package of grants and loans leveraging public and private investments, to help the country to stabilise its economy.

The money will be also used by Minsk to reform its institutions to make them more democratic and help increase the economy's resilience, growth potential and job creation.

The Commission presented to the Council on Friday its outline for a comprehensive plan of economic support to a future democratic Belarus.

Saying that the message to the people of Belarus is “We see and hear your desire for change, for democracy, and for a bright future”, EC President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out to the Belarusian authorities “No amount of repression, brutality or coercion will bring any legitimacy to your authoritarian regime”.

“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,” von der Leyen underlined.

High Representative of the European Union/ European Commission Vice-President, Josep Borrell, highlighted that the EU is supporting the democratic choice of the Belarusian people with all its means. “The massive financial assistance package that we can provide Belarus in the case of its democratic transition should be a genuine incentive for the current authorities to change their course,” the HR asserted.

“Combined with our extensive sanctions on the regime, which will be increased further in the coming weeks, as well as recalibrations of our existing financial assistance away from the State and directly to the people, we are showing that the EU remains truly committed to a democratic Belarus,” Borrell pointed out.

EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Várhelyi, emphasised that the announced support package “is yet further proof of our determination to actively support the people of Belarus”, and will help Belarus in its reform process to develop a more resilient society and economy.

The plan, of up to €3bn, 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, the EU executive states.

The outline highlights several indicative measures to enhance Belarus' resilience. Direct financial support will boost the country's economic recovery, helping it restore macro-economic stability and strengthen its precarious fiscal situation.

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 €1.5bn in EU loans as well as public and private investments.

The EU will mobilise a Transition Package of up to €400m in grant assistance under the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation (NCIDI)-Global Europe to support the democratic transition and address key structural reforms, such like enhancing the quality of justice, improving business environment and supporting SME's development.

EU funding will also aim to contribute to the education and health care systems reform and provide assistance to 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.

The Union will invest as well in sustainable infrastructures and the green and digital transformation. In partnership with International Financial Institutions, the EU expects to mobilise up to €100m in grant funding to leverage up to €1bn 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, the EU will mobilise all tools available in cooperation with International Financing Institutions to prioritise support to five key flagship investments.

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