EU disburses €80 million to North Macedonia as part of energy support package
The Republic of North Macedonia received €80 million in financial support from the European Union to support measures tackling the ongoing energy crisis. The President of the Government, Dimitar Kovačevski, emphasised at a press conference held on 9 March that these were funds for budget support. The details of the anti-crisis measures and their effects were presented by Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Bojan Maričić, Minister of Finance Fatmir Besimi, Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi, and Jovana Trenchevska, Minister of Labor and Social Policy. The EU Ambassador, David Geer, indicated that this financial support will help citizens cope with the pressure resulting from the energy crisis.
Prime Minister Kovačevski emphasised that the Government, together with institutional partners, ministries, the countries of the region as well as the European Union, prevented a price shock and enabled a stable supply of electricity, while increasing domestic production, and ensuring price stability.
The €80 million comes as subsidies for household electricity bills, support for small and medium-sized companies to maintain business continuity, as well as state investments for energy transition, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
EU Ambassador David Geer: “Last October, European Commission President von der Leyen promised here in Skopje that the EU would provide North Macedonia with €80 million to tackle the energy crisis. This is all part of the €1 billion package that the EU has prepared for the Western Balkans. In practice, this support will help citizens cope with the demands that have arisen as a result of the energy crisis. This means helping all households meet their basic energy needs, especially the most vulnerable. It means keeping schools and hospitals up and running. And it means helping small businesses ensure the production of basic goods.”
Prime Minister Kovačevski: "Reducing the price of electricity by 20% for 70,000 companies that are on the regulated market and keeping the price for households at the same level is only a confirmation of the correct policies that we are conducting in times of energy crisis, and it is a real concern for the most vulnerable categories. All the measures taken by the Government are aimed to ensure reliable and stable heating. Today there is electricity and heating, without restrictions. The plan produces results. Our priority is the energy transition and energy independence. Our country is a regional leader in the energy transition, with a huge potential to become a green energy hub."
Deputy Prime Minister Maričić: “The European Union is our biggest partner who is the first to stand with us in difficult times. In addition to the primary goal of the €80 million, these non-refundable funds will also support structural reforms to facilitate the energy transition. Through the Western Balkans Investment Framework, we already managed to receive over €52 million of non-refundable funds for projects in the field of energy."
Minister of Finance Fatmir Besimi: “It is a recognition by our main partner, the EU, and our allies, in addition to the ongoing financial assistance for the reform agenda projects, that they also grant us funds to deal with this crisis. In 2020, the Republic of North Macedonia was also awarded a €40 million grant as direct support for the efforts made by the state in dealing with the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.“
Minister of Economy Keshnik Bekteshi: “The national energy action plan anticipates funds to subsidise domestic companies, primarily to ensure the provision of public services, water supply, health and education, as well as guaranteeing supply of food, milk and other goods in the public interest. It also includes measures to support citizens in dealing with rising energy prices. Last but not least for North Macedonia, the national energy action plan includes projects and programmes implementing European policies for the protection of vulnerable energy consumers, measures for energy efficiency in buildings and for the development and implementation of the concept of ‘prosumers’."
Minister of Labor and Social Policy Jovana Trenchevska: "As part of the latest package of government measures, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy has been providing three months financial support to the most vulnerable for dealing with the energy crisis. Financial support is now provided for a period of four months to over 177,000 sociallyexcluded citizens, including children, those receiving unemployment benefits, and recipients of the minimum pension. In addition, 46,000 recipients that have the right to guaranteed minimum assistance and social security receive a cash allowance for energy during the winter months. In total, about 220,000 at-risk users are covered and about €21 million have been paid out."
The first €500 million of the €1 billion Energy Support Package for six Western Balkan partners provides direct funds to the region's economies through budget-support measures:
- To balance the increase in energy prices for businesses and the energy sector
- To keep energy prices affordable, especially for vulnerable households
- To support policy measures to accelerate the green energy transition
The second part - another €500 million - will cover priority flagship investments to diversify energy supplies, boost renewable energy and improve energy efficiency. It will also promote the clean energy transition of the region and cut dependency on Russia's fossil fuels.