EBRD supports UniCredit Serbia’s Paris alignment plan

By Svitlana  Pyrkalo

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Aerial skyline of Belgrade waterfront and row of bridges over Sava river in the capital city of Serbia sunset.

  • UniCredit Serbia first European bank to adopt new EBRD Paris alignment methodology
  • €100 million SME credit line from the EBRD tied to Unicredit climate governance plan
  • EBRD investment in Serbia to date nearly €8 billion, €648 million in 2022

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has extended a credit line of €100 million to UniCredit Bank Serbia, which it will use for lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Serbia.

Serbian SMEs account for more than half of the country’s employment, but do not have sufficient access to finance, which they need to grow. The credit line, formally signed in late 2022, will plug some of that financing gap. Ten per cent of the total amount will be earmarked for renewables and energy-efficiency projects by SMEs. 

The EBRD credit line is also linked to UniCredit’s pioneering climate transition plan. The banking group’s Serbian subsidiary will become the first bank in Europe to incorporate the EBRD’s new Paris alignment methodology for the financial sector.

A month ago, the EBRD announced its own full alignment with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Part of the alignment methodology covers the EBRD’s work with more than 300 partner banks, which disburse EBRD credit lines to local companies (mainly SMEs).

UniCredit will work on four areas – governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics, targets and disclosures – to align them with the Paris Agreement. These four areas are the pillars of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an international initiative on climate risks and considerations.

Aleksandra Vukosavljevic, EBRD Director for Financial Institutions in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe, said: “UniCredit Bank has been an excellent partner for the EBRD in Serbia, distributing nearly €600 million of EBRD financing to the Serbian economy. With this facility, we confirm the EBRD’s strong commitment to reinforcing the SME segment in Serbia with tailor-made financing and advice. We look forward to continuing to foster our strong partnership with UniCredit Bank in Serbia in the areas where we can work together to create a more sustainable environment, as is the case with climate change and the green transition.”

Nikola Vuletić, CEO of UniCredit Serbia, said: “The transition of the Serbian economy to ‘green and sustainable’ is very important. Since 2011, when we started working with the EBRD on green credit lines, we invested about €100 million of our own funds to help clients finance their own low-carbon transition and also provided advisory services to them. The EBRD-supported Paris transition plan will help us localise UniCredit Group’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards for Serbia and to be more competitive in the local environment.”

The EBRD started publishing climate-related risk assessments under the TCFD in 2019, issuing its latest report in November 2022.

In 2022, the EBRD invested €648 million in the Serbian economy, of which nearly half was dedicated to low-carbon transition projects. The Bank’s total commitment to Serbia is almost €8 billion to date.

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