Key supported initiative supporting the green and circular economy transition in the Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood and the Western Balkans

In the EU Neighborhood and Western Balkans [and Turkey], countries are embracing to varying degrees the Circular Economy as a driver of sustainable economic growth, job creation, and environmental protection. NEAR is in close collaboration with the EU Delegations and other DGs (INTPA, ENV, EEAS, Trade, Grow, Energy, etc.] with a view to enhancing coordination and synergies, as well as optimal use of available technical and financing instruments, including the EFSD+ framework, to advance implementation, EU visibility, efficient coordination, and impact with regards to the transition to low/net-zero carbon economy. As part of the European Green Deal, NEAR pursues a strong agenda in green and circular economy for the Western Balkans, Eastern, and Southern Partnership regions and countries. Under the 2021-2027 MIP, programme implementation is advancing despite the consequences of the on-going war in Ukraine, the post-covid recovery efforts, as well as the negative effects of climate adaptation, including natural disasters, sustained youth unemployment and migration. Achievements so far, in collaboration with Team Europe (TEI) initiatives, include gains in energy efficiency, cleaner and more resource and energy efficient production, and water management modernisation. Several countries improved their environmental assessment procedures and started using green public procurement, eco-labelling, and extended producer responsibility. Private sector actors received expert advice and training to green their production. Access to finance for SMEs has improved due to cooperation with IFIs and as part of the EFSD+, thus directly contributing to the objectives of the Global Gateway Strategy. EU-funded regional programmes, twinning, TAIEX, and bilateral portfolios have also played enabling role in such progress.


EU for Circular Economy and Green Growth – Waste Infrastructure in Albania (EUR 19 M; 2023-2028) The project started in September 2023, and is supporting regional integrated waste management systems and related infrastructure facilities to operate fully in line with circular economy in two waste regions in Albania, Kukës and Gjirokastër Waste Zones. Infrastructure capacities supporting circular economy and green growth, resource efficiency, recycling and reuse will be increased at regional level.

EU4Green: Support the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (regional, EUR 10 M, 2022-2025) project aims at helping the Western Balkan region to move towards a sustainable, climate-resilient future by enhancing the region’s Green Agenda governance and tackling environmental challenges in line with EU accession. In Albania, the project focuses on building implementation strategies on Circular Economy at the regional and local level, as well as enhancing monitoring and reporting.

  • EU for Circular Economy and Green Growth – support to the transition of Albania towards a circular economy (EUR 10.6 M; 2023-2027) The Project has started in October 2023 and will further align and enforce the waste legislation with the EU acquis and will provide funding through a Financing Mechanism for local Government and grant schemes for Private sector participation to incentivise and support businesses in their transition to more circular practices. 

Expected results:
– Albania has achieved key objectives in the field of environmental protection and economic green growth, namely, to accelerate the transformation to a circular economy, improve energy efficiency, contribute to job creation, and green growth
– partner municipalities with improved circular economy measures can demonstrate cost savings of 10%
– Albania has approached EU environmental standards by transposition of 85% of the EU Waste Framework directive with a functional EPR scheme in the waste zone of Kukës and Gioias’re


In 2024, the European Union and Egypt signed a 7.4-billion-euro financial package to support the boost energy sales to Europe. Furthermore, the EU supported initiatives on the Green and Circular Economy enable the Egyptian government and private sector to tackle key challenges to circularity, such as limited awareness of green practices, insufficient coordination between institutions and limited access to finance for industry and SMEs.

The National Solid Waste Management Programme (NSWMP) (79.2MEUR (EU 20MEUR, KfW 15MEUR, GIZ 16.2MEUR, SECO 10.5MEUR and GoE 17.5MEUR, 2014 to 2023) invests into solid waste infrastructure including recycling plants in four different governorates with a total financing of EUR 71.9 M€ and provides policy support towards the implementation of the Law on Waste Management – effectively linking technical assistance with infrastructure financing.

Switch Med (EU 40MEUR, regional, 2014-2024)
– Supported the adoption of the SCP National Action Plan that laid the foundation for the introduction of the updated Sustainable Development Strategy, Egypt 2030.
– 28 industries from the food, chemical and textile sectors joined the Med TEST II project on Resource efficiency and cleaner production – leading to a total of 10.3 M€ saved annually by a total of 255 RECP measures.
– 376 entrepreneurs (31% women) trained and supported to develop and test their Green Business Models
– 23 circular Start-ups incubated to develop and implement their Green Business Plans though one-on-one mentoring support and tailored external technical assistance
– Enabling access to finance for green entrepreneurs in Egypt by establishing the Switchers Fund and contributing to the first MENA impact fund.

The Egyptian Pollution Abatement Project III (EPAP III) (186MEUR (EU 10MEUR, EIB 70MEUR, AFD 50MEUR, KfW 15.5MEUR, GoE 4.4MEUR, Industry 36.1MEUR, 2015-2024).

EPAP III helps industry improve performance, reduce energy and resource consumption as well as reach compliance with environmental regulations by providing access to finance to achieve significant pollution abatement. Projects can include industrial waste recycling and reuse, recovery and reuse of raw materials, process optimisation to reduce resource usage and technical innovation to use less resources or extend product life.


EU GREEN – EU Support for Growth through Egyptian Environment Network (EU 14M€, BMZ 2MEUR, 2022 to 2025) facilitates a circular economy roadmap and strategy development and creates economic opportunities for NGOs and Green entrepreneurs in the circular economy by increasing private sector participation and ownership.


EU support to accelerate Georgia’s transition towards a more circular and sustainable economy focus on the need of capacity building, infrastructure, and enabling environment. Several infrastructure projects are being implemented in the waste sector by the EU and partner IFIs. Furthermore, the EU seeks to improve the management and legislation on industrial pollution and hazards and sets the mechanisms to manage environmental risks and impacts

EU Innovative Action on Private Sector Competitiveness (EU 5.6 MUSD, 2019-2023): The project is part of the wider EU4Business support to the private sector development in Georgia. It aims to assist Georgian entrepreneurs, improve the legal environment and access to finance, and strengthen the ties with the European Union. In particular, it strengthened the Georgian packaging cluster (PMAG). Collaborative efforts let to new technologies, processes, and business models, creating 20 new eco-packaging solutions. EU support has played a pivotal role in elevating PMAG into an established hub for sustainable practices and industry excellence, developing from 7 to 80 members thus contributing to the growth within the Georgian packaging upstream and downstream industry.


Georgia Hazardous Waste (8.3 M EUR 2018-2025) The project supports the development of a hazardous waste management system in Georgia with a strong waste prevention focus in line with the EU waste hierarchy concept, which should help reduce air, groundwater and soil pollution. Expected results include a management system for hazardous waste developed and financed and two new waste management facilities operational in Eastern and Western Georgia including specialised equipment provided to new facilities.

Support to waste management and development of circular economy in Georgia (EU 1.86 MEUR, 2022-2025) The project outcomes include waste sorting/recycling/reuse and promoting the concept of the green economy in society aligned with the waste hierarchy outlined in the EU Waste Management Framework Directive.

EU4Environment (EU 20 MEUR; regional; 2019 – 2024): The regional programme helps businesses, adopt Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production practices. In Georgia, the programme also supported the introduction of Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) and eco-labelling. With this support, Georgia has amended the Georgian Public Procurement Law ensuring that the law supports the implementation of SPP at each stage of the procurement cycle including the relevant bylaws. Manuals and guidelines to adapt and implement the newly developed SPP primary and secondary legal provisions were produced.


EU support to Jordan’s Circular Economy transition is part of the Partnership Priorities that promote macroeconomic stability and enhance social and economic development. In particular, they address climate change and environmental degradation by joining efforts to promote green growth and the energy transition towards climate neutrality, in line with Jordan’s Energy Sector Strategy (2020-2030) and in line with Jordan’s National Determined Contribution (NDC) and National Adaptation Plan EU funding, with impetus from the latest EU policy orientations, notably the European Green Deal, include actions on green energy sector; solid waste management, green innovation, water and wastewater. Highlights of cooperation include the following:

The EU support complements the relevant institutional, legislative and fiscal reforms in Jordan, thereby contributing to the development and implementation of effective policies to help Jordan achieve their Green and Circular economy growth strategy and action plans:

The EU support to Green Economy Programme (EUR 40 M 2021-2024) provides an excellent opportunity to support the Jordanian transition towards more circularity by effectively combining targeted budget support, technical assistance as well a Call for Proposals on Green innovation to help Jordan achieve their green and circular economy growth strategy and action plans.

Since 2014, Jordan benefitted from the regional Switch Med programme (EUR 40 M regional, 2014–2024) that promoted the circular economy in 27 industry pilots (through Med Test methodology) and provided additional support towards an enabling policy environment through the establishment of the Switchers Policy Hub.

Support to the Al-Ghabawi Wastewater treatment facility in Amman (EUR 30 M loan delegated to EBRD, 2023 – 2027) will have a capacity of 22,500 cubic metres a day, thereby improving and increasing Jordan’s water and wastewater treatment services for host communities and refugees

The Aqaba Amman Water Desalination and Conveyance project (EUR 97 M delegated to EIB, 2022–2028) will supply an additional 300 mission cubic meters of water per year after desalination making it the largest water generation scheme to be implemented in the history of Jordan. 


With up to EUR 9 billion, the European Commission’s Economic and Investment Plan (EIP) funds investment flagships in the areas of transport, energy, green and digital transition including encouraging waste prevention, reuse and recycling, decreasing waste production, increasing resource productivity and reducing pollution (e.g. plastic pollution), to mention a few. With EU and EBRD support, North Macedonia launched the Just Energy.

EU Support at a Glance

EU support to competitiveness and sustainability in the Western Balkans and Türkiye (2022 – 2025, 8 MEUR)”: Under component 3 of the regional initiative the OECD as implementer supports the Government of North Macedonia in preparing and implementing a circular economy roadmap to accelerate the country’s green economic recovery and growth.



EU4Green: Support the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans is a regional EU financed project (2022-2025 EUR 10 million), implemented by the Austrian Environmental Agency, focuses on greening their economies in consultation with all relevant partners and in enhancing monitoring and reporting. Moving towards circular economy is one of its goals.

EU4 Economic Growth – Promoting economic growth in North Macedonia (implemented by GIZ, co-funded by the EU Delegation to North Macedonia, 2021-2025 EUR 9 million) Supporting the green and circular transition, the project improves business support services for MSMEs and set up a SME grant scheme promoting the circular business models and best practices.

Waste Water Treatment Plant Skopje – WBIF grant co-financed project, with financing from EIB and EBRD. The first Circular Economy Project under Flagship 7 – Waste and Wastewater management with the following results & benefits:

  • New wastewater treatment plant with an installed capacity of 650,000 population equivalent Sustainable wastewater treatment services and increased efficiency of wastewater collection for 518,000 people living in Skopje.
  • 155 new jobs created during the construction and operation of the wastewater treatment plant;
  • Compliance with EU Water and Environment Directives and international best practices in the field