The 12 Central-Eastern European countries that make up the Three Seas Initiative require approximately €600 billion in investments to catch up to the West, with those funds focused on improving transport, energy and digital infrastructure, said the head of Poland’s state investment bank BGK, Beata Daszyńska-Muzyczka, during her panel presentation at the Economic Forum in Karpacz.
“This infrastructure which will link countries that lie between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas will give us all an economic boost,” said Daszyńska-Muzyczka. her bank will announce the first set of investments in which its financing vehicle that was activated in 2019 will become engaged in at the Three Seas summit in Tallin in October.
In order to catch up with the standards of the West, the banker assessed the financial needs for North-South infrastructure will require €290 billion for transport, €160 billion for digitalization, and close to €100 billion for energy
Daszyńska-Muzyczka noted that the list of participating institutions in the fund that the BGK has initiated is not closed. These are, so far, all development institutions.
Poland and Romania are the founding countries and the supervisory board of the fund is made up of five states.
The BGK’s CEO announced that it was expected that Estonia and Latvia would become partners in the initiative in the coming days.
According to the BGK chief, the fund creates opportunities for countries who share common needs and history. Access to the “Three Seas” should be a driver of growth for the whole region “but this is conditional on access to the seas being facilitated by infrastructure, which is still lacking on a North-South axis, and that was limiting European development as a whole”.
The huge amount of investment needed means seeking a funding from range of EU and other public and private sources, including the World Bank, the EBI and IDFC. Funds will also be sought in the US and Asia.
Poland’s minister for EU funds, Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, told the Karpacz conference that the countries of the region had already invested €80 billion in these three sectors and that these funds would soon be bolstered by the EU Recovery Fund.
“The pandemic and recovery from the crisis provide the opportunities for a reset of our economies, so that our supply chains can be realized within the region. The European Commission will be backing such initiatives,” said the minister.
Poland’s transport infrastructure minister, Andrzej Adamczyk, talked about the via Carpatia road connection as an example of a project already advanced for which Poland has secured funding.
The Three Seas Fund, he felt, could help at the cross-border level to advance the project.
“Via Carpatia brings with it other investments in energy” chimed Jerzy Kwieciński, the CEO of Polish state gas corporation PGNiG.
According to Daszyńska-Muzyczka, there was a need for many more such projects. She reported that the fund was looking at 50 projects, with six of them already being well advanced. A small number of them will be made public at the Tallin summit.
The Three Seas members are located near the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas, and includes Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria.