Address by the President at the 3 SI Business Forum
Dear, distinguished Presidents,
Minister Secretary of State,
All distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad that today we participate in the second edition of the Three Seas Initiative Business Forum in Ljubljana. I am grateful to the organizers of this year's 3SI Summit — the Slovenian President, Borut Bahor, the Government and financial institutions – I am grateful for arranging the business component of our Initiative. This is particularly significant given that modernization of Central and Eastern European markets is a process of strategic importance for our future. Ensuring sustainable economic development in our region and in Europe is a priority.
Every year we are advancing in this regard. Our economies are evolving towards the developed market status. These changes are sweeping and affecting new areas of the economy and society. It is very important that in this process the 3SI countries maintain two fundamental elements in its development: high growth rate and stability of financial institutions.
With this in mind, I would like to focus today on two aspects of economic cooperation within our Initiative: the challenges of the future and our responses that we are trying to formulate in the present-day.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Currently, the train journey from Tallinn to Constanta takes about 3.5 days. The same distance from Gothenburg to Barcelona is covered in 1 day by train. Whereas the same journey by road is about 8 hours shorter than it would be the case in our part of Europe. These facts have an impact not only on the comfort of travel and tourism, but also, above all, on economic and social relations. If we want to tighten and intensify them, we must have a coherent investment policy in the Three Seas region. That is, one that will overcome all transportation gaps.
According to PWC data, in recent years we have spent approximately 150 billion euro from EU funds on transportation investments in our region. Estimates of SPOTDATA experts show that the demand for investments into transportation will continue on the same high level. By 2030 alone, it is expected to run into 165 billion euro for roads, 100 billion euro for railways, 13 billion euro for maritime transport, and 11 billion euro for aviation infrastructure. The situation in the energy sector is similar. Demand for investments in the gas sector by 2030 will run into 16 billion euro. We will have to spend 21 billion euro on new power transmission projects, and 51 billion euro on power distribution. That stands at almost 90 billion euro in total. Even higher amounts are considered for telecommunications. We are talking about 160 billion euro of investment needs. These enormous sums show the scale of the challenges to be confronted by the 3SI region.
These are challenges of a community nature. We cannot handle them acting on our own. However, we can get closer to their realization through teamwork. A team playing fair and accordingly to the framework of market rules. It will always be a positive-sum game. This is the logic of the 3SI cooperation.
That is why in the next decade, not only the EU budget or public finances of individual countries will be important. Apart from structural funds the engagement of private partners should also be visible in infrastructural investments. Here the business offer of the 3SI is particularly attractive. It combines three fundamental criteria of financial success: growth dynamics, security of investment and stability of institutions.
The market, which stretches between the Baltic Sea, the Adriatic and the Black Sea today accounts for 1.7 trillion euro of GDP. In a decade or so, it will increase to reach 2.3 trillion euro. In the meantime, it will continue to grow in size at an average rate of 2.4% of GDP per annum. This means that the share of Central and Eastern Europe in the GDP of the whole EU will increase from 10 to 13% by 2030.
As you see, we are talking about a high pace of growth. The pace, which already attracts many investors from the USA, Western Europe and Asia. Today, I can say with confidence that the leaders of the 3SI are right in interpreting these positive trends. That is why the new follow-up stage of our activity, which we are launching here in Ljubljana, is the Three Seas Fund.
Poland and Romania have inaugurated the functioning of the Fund. We see it as a new source of financing for the infrastructure investments. This will be a practical dimension of the 3SI cooperation. A tool to make our plans and dreams come true.
Another practical tool we introduced at the summit in Bucharest is the progress report. The aim of this report is to monitor of economic development in our region and to provide yet additional tool for investors.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
we take regional cooperation seriously. I know that we have the will and the ability to make sure that the fruits of the Three Seas Initiative result in the form of new roads, railways, bridges and air connections. We want to measure the effects of the 3SI not by the number of meetings and signed declarations, but in kilometres of new roads, modernised gas pipelines or in the sums spent on urgent investments. Playing as a team, we move from analysis to action and implementation of the goal we have jointly charted out.