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“Integrated”: the EBRD’s transition concept

By Thomas Maier and Matthew Jordan-Tank

Integration is a central element in any economy’s competitiveness. It enables trade at greater speed, lower cost and better quality. It is, in short, critical as an enabler of growth and job creation.

As a transition quality, integration refers not only to the physical dimension (such as larger cross-border projects in major transport, energy and IT networks), but also improvements to internal markets through national-level improvements between ports, airports, electricity grids, cities and rural areas alike.

How we assess progress on transition qualities

Integration also includes efforts to achieve higher standards, greater harmonisation with international norms, strengthening of institutions, development of regulatory frameworks, and greater adherence to the rule of law.

Together with the European Union, we are helping business in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine take full advantage of unrestricted access to the world’s largest market.

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In fostering integration, the EBRD is aligned with major international policy efforts. Achieving integration through connectivity is high on the international agenda, having been highlighted by the world’s 20 leading economies (the G20), international financial institutions (IFIs) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the recent creation of the new Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, linking China to the global economy, is another example of how integration is critical for the wider world.

These initiatives are occurring now with good reason: studies by the OECD and the G20’s Global Infrastructure Hub have established the positive relationship between connectivity and economic growth, and show that there has been under-investment in transport connectivity in many developing countries.

The EBRD is not a newcomer to fostering integration. With over 100 project investments, its active participation in the EU’s TEN-T and TEN-E (Trans-European Networks for transport and energy, respectively) initiatives are real examples of how important integration is in the wider European context.

In Central Asia, road investments in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan help improve critical trade routes, backed by improvements to institutional frameworks, funding sources for maintenance and modern asset management approaches, higher standards, and road safety.

In Turkey and the Western Balkans, port and rail investments improve trade corridors that create improved economic competiveness for the region to serve as a link between Asia, the SEMED region and the rest of Europe.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, financing of the regional road corridor Vc 2 was underpinned by an increase in the fuel levy to ensure the investment’s sustainability. In the Caucasus, our investments in electricity transmission network projects are solidifying cross-border energy markets, lowering costs to business and consumers alike.

In Ukraine, our efforts deepen the integration of its gas transmission network, while the EBRD’s support for the Southern Corridor and LNG investments helps promoting trade, growth, and competitiveness.

Finally, the EBRD fosters “soft integration” to harmonise electricity transmission capacity in the Balkans through support for the regional Coordinated Auction Office.

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