Ladies and gentlemen,
Global connectivity for the EU starts with its neighbourhood. This is where our links are strongest and this is where we have already started to lay the foundations for further global connectivity.
And we have created the tools. The Economic and Investment Plans we have recently launched for the Western Balkans, the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood are all built around connectivity. Connectivity with Europe, connectivity within these regions. Developed in close cooperation with our partners, these Plans will start to deliver the Global Gateway Strategy in our neighbouring regions still within the mandate of this Commission.
The Global Gateway will be delivered together with the Member States, with our beneficiary partners and with international partners. The Global Gateway should change the harsh realities on the ground: people, goods, services, energy will move much faster and much cheaper.
Let me give a few examples of what Global Gateway brings for our neighbours via the Economic and Investment Plans:
For the Western Balkans, the Plan sets out a substantial investment package of almost EUR 30 billion – one third of the region’s GDP - in grants and loans over the next seven years.
This Plan includes transport connectivity in rail and road aiming to connect all capitals in the region with each other and with the EU, for example the Peace Highway or the Blue Highway. And through new energy connectivity we can rapidly phase out coal as the major energy source.
Going beyond the Western Balkans, in Turkey, we will complete the Halkali-Kapikule Railway Line.
For the Eastern Partnership, the Economic and Investment Plan will mobilise investments of up to EUR 17 billion across all policy sectors.
This includes digital connectivity projects, such as the deployment of fibre optic cable under the Black Sea, of electricity cable connecting Georgia and the Caucasus with the EU or the development of high-speed broadband infrastructure.
For the Southern Neighbourhood we will mobilise up to EUR 30 billion in public and private investments. This includes creating new green energy capacities and linking them to the European energy market, as new and reliable energy sources.
The implementation of the three Economic and Investments Plans has already started. I am in Jordan right now, discussing with my counterparts how to speed up our joint work on our flagship projects that we will frontload, such as King Hussein Bridge and the Aqaba-Amman water desalination and conveyance project.
Let me conclude by reiterating that connectivity is the lifeline between Europe and our neighbours. A lifeline than needs expansion to let our broader region grow in security, stability and prosperity. Only Europe can offer this and only Europe can deliver this.