Over the years, the CEB has forged partnerships with other international organisations and donors to bring additional financing and greater expertise to the projects it supports. In addition to its natural links with the Council of Europe, the CEB has become a partner of choice to the European Union and regularly cooperates with other international financial institutions (IFIs), as well as with several United Nations specialised agencies.
The CEB and the European Union (EU)
Among the CEB’s 41 members, 26 are EU members and 8 are official or potential candidates for accession to the EU, creating a common field of action.
Through its cooperation with the EU, the CEB pursues three major objectives
- To promote social development and to further the social agenda in Europe
- To ensure better technical and financial viability for social projects financed by the Bank in favour of its member states
- To help CEB member states absorb EU funds in the social sectors
The Regional Housing Programme (RHP) is the cornerstone of a regional initiative named the Sarajevo Process, which aims at ending the protracted displacement of refugees and internally displaced persons in the Western Balkans stemming from the conflicts in the region in the 90s.
With an estimated cost of € 584 million, the RHP seeks to provide housing solutions to 74 000 individuals in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia (Partner Countries). A number of donors, including the European Union and the U.S., have pledged € 268 million.
The CEB plays a critical role in the RHP. It manages the RHP Fund, the multilateral fund which holds Donor contributions. The Bank also helps the Partner Countries in the implementation of the programme. Finally, it facilitates coordination between the various RHP stakeholders.
Apart from the RHP, the main cooperation initiatives with the EU aim at blending of the Bank’s loans with EU grants, either for technical assistance or in the form of investment grants.
The WBIF (Western Balkans Investment Framework)
This coordination framework is aimed at facilitating access to European financings for the countries in the Western Balkans. It combines loans from financial institutions such as the EIB, the EBRD, KfW and the CEB with grants from the EU, Member States and the three above-mentioned institutions. The CEB’s participation in the WBIF comes within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Enlargement Policy. Signed by the CEB on 11 April 2006, the purpose of this MoU is to facilitate coordinated support for countries that are candidates or potential candidates to EU accession.
Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF)
The aim of the NIF is to combine grants from the EU and donor states (through the "NIF Trust Fund") with loans from financial institutions such as the EIB, the EBRD and the CEB in favour of countries eligible under the European Neighbourhood Policy instrument. This cooperation comes under the MoU on European Neighbourhood Policy, signed by the CEB on 13 July 2007. This MoU promotes coordinated action in favour of countries eligible for funding under the European Neighbourhood Policy.
Recently, the CEB joined an initiative for supporting energy efficiency and decreasing CO2 emission in the EU Eastern Partnership countries called the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environmental Partnership ( “E5P”) for the benefit of projects in the Bank’s member states (Georgia and Republic of Moldova).
The CEB also participates in:
- tripartite facilities with the EU and KfW, which provide support to projects in Eastern Europe by combining CEB loans and KfW loans with EU grants, notably for technical assistance (note: there will be no further EU grants after 1st January 2014)
- ad hoc cooperation initiatives such as the one set up for the construction of a high security State Prison in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Furthermore, the CEB is involved in:
- the activities of the EU Platform for Blending in External Cooperation (EUBEC), which issues recommendations and guidelines with a view to harmonising cooperation instrument/methods and mobilising more public and private resources;
- the bilateral facility set up with the Commission (DG Energy), CEB-ELENA, in order to finance the cost of technical assistance for investment projects involving energy efficiency and renewable energy in favour of disadvantaged regions or populations.
In addition to this, the CEB follows closely the National Roma Integration Strategies NRIS, seeking new ways to bring NRIS into practical workable projects. To this end the CEB collaborates with DG Employment, Social Affairs and inclusion, DG REGIO, the Council of Europe (Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma inclusion) the World Bank, UNDP, and specialised NGOs such as OSF, REF, FSG. The Bank is also linked to the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), a cooperation body for South Eastern Europe. In February 2008, the RCC replaced the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, to which the Bank had been a partner since 2001.
International Financial Institutions (IFIs)
Not only is the Bank associated with IFIs through several cooperation instruments signed under the aegis of the European Union, but it has also signed six bilateral cooperation agreements with, respectively, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank (including the IDA), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) – the German promotional bank, the most recent being with the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) on 9 December 2014.
Besides, on 2 June 2008, the Governor of the CEB and the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a "Joint Statement on Cooperation" between the two institutions in Luxembourg.
The CEB also participates as an observer in the meetings of the Development Committee of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
United Nations agencies
The Bank has concluded bilateral memorandums of agreement with UN agencies active in the CEB's member states, namely the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UNICEF.
The UNHCR, together with the OSCE, plays an active role in beneficiary-related issues within the Regional Housing Programme (RHP).