Serbia borrowed 200 million euros ($237 million) from the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Wednesday, and will use the money to help small and medium-sized enterprises recover from the COVID-19 crisis, the lender said.
The loan is part of an wider EU financial package worth 1.7 billion euros that was approved last year to aid the recovery of the Western Balkans, a region comprised of Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia.
So far the EIB, which is Europe’s largest development bank and is owned by EU member states, has provided 380 million euros to Serbia from that package, including the loan on Wednesday.
“The loan will … help protect over 47,000 jobs, while creating 5,500 new job opportunities,” the bank said.
This year and last, Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, allocated around 8 billion euros or 17.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in subsidies and payments for businesses and citizens to help them weather the pandemic.
Serbia’s economy is expected to grow 6% this year, after a 1.1% contraction in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund.