Three Seas to establish 100bln euro fund to support investment

President Andrzej Duda (L) and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (R) during the first Three Seas Initiative summit, Dubrovnik, August 2016 Jacek Turczyk/PAP

Improving transport, infrastructure and energy links within Central and Eastern Europe, especially along the north-south axis, will take not only political will, but also money.

To this end, the twelve countries of the Three Seas Initiative, located around the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Sea, are planning to establish a fund to support investment in the region. 

An initiative by Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, Poland’s national development bank, it would initially fund projects worth a total of 100 billion euros.

Stretching from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south, the Three Seas Initiative – a Polish-Croatian idea – was established to strengthen links within Central and Eastern Europe. 

In a statement signed at their first summit in Dubrovnik in 2016, the countries greeted it as an “informal platform for securing political support and decisive action on specific cross-border and macro-regional projects of strategic importance to the States involved in energy, transportation, digital communication”.

Grand declarations aside, the new fund will help provide the money needed to execute these projects. Focusing on infrastructure and energy investments, often cross-border ones, it will further reduce the development gap between Europe’s east and west.

These projects include Via Carpatia, the transnational highway network linking the Baltic port of Klaipeda in Lithuania with Thessaloniki in Greece. 

From Lithuania, the route will pass through eastern Poland, including Białystok, Lublin and Rzeszów, improving road links between these cities. From there, it will continue south into Slovakia and then Hungary. 

Expected to be completed in the mid-2020s, the route will strengthen north-south transport links within Central and Eastern Europe, which have been relatively neglected.

Poland’s BGK will work with 11 other banking institutions in the region. The twelve countries are expected to sign a letter of intent on the fund next month in Bucharest, where the third Three Seas Initiative summit will be held on 17-18 September.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki mentioned plans for the fund earlier this year, in the context of strengthening regional cooperation between Poland and other countries in the region.  

“We are building a Three Seas Initiative Fund with our Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego’s involvement and given the pace of action we may be creating this kind of infrastructure development funds for concrete projects within the framework of the Visegrad Group,” he said at the Group’s summit in Budapest in January.

The fund is expected to start working next year. Rather than fixed headquarters, its board of directors will meet in different countries on a rotating basis.