Local development, competitiveness and employment are in the focus of the first phase of the European Union Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for Serbia in 2020. The agreement worth EUR 70 million was signed today by the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Ambassador Sem Fabrizi, and the Minister of the European Integration and National IPA Coordinator Jadranka Joksimovic. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić was present at the signing ceremony and the event was followed online by the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhely.
The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, thanked the European Union for the comprehensive assistance during the memorial service today.
“This assistance is very important and I am infinitely grateful to the European Union for this new package for the untapped economy, social and economic development, and employment. This provides an additional incentive for reforms, which we are strongly continuing with because I believe that the countries of the Balkans have a place in the European Union, which is undoubtedly an extremely important partner for Serbia,” said President Vučić.
“These are pre-accession funds of the European Union, intended for the overall development of the negotiating country, to make the country as prepared as possible when it joins and to reduce regional differences, both internal regional differences in the country and to get closer to that. which is the average growth and development of European regions, which created the European Union. “Negotiations are important, reforms are important, but they bring what is a concrete improvement and if Serbia were now a member, we would have 1.3 or 1.4 billion euros annually from the structural funds,” said Minister Joksimović.
After the EUR 93 million for immediate and long-term economic assistance in March, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU is now enabling additional funds to be used by Serbian citizens, institutions and companies.
“Assistance to Serbia during the crisis and this new aid package is a clear proof of the European Union’s commitment to Serbia on its path to the EU, which was confirmed at the EU-Western Balkans summit in early May in Zagreb. This package will help Serbia be more competitive, provide employment assistance to the population, and help the country’s economic development. I am glad that we worked very well together during the pandemic and our support for Serbia on its path to the EU continues. “Commissioner Varhelyi said.
The donations will support Serbia’s socio-economic development, employment, and social policies for the most vulnerable people.
In particular, €30 million will be devoted to competition, agriculture, innovation and rural development, with grant support provided for up to 450 micro enterprises, start-ups and business support organisations in the less developed regions of Serbia.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, special focus will be also put on strengthening the capacities for surveillance and response to communicable diseases as well as employment, education and social protection of most vulnerable groups, with the total of €25 million.
About EU in Serbia:
The EU is by far the largest donor, investor and economic partner of Serbia with more than EUR 3 billion in non-refundable assistance in Serbia through various projects since 2001. Every year, the EU donates around €200.000 for social and economic development of Serbia.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the EU has allocated €15 million for emergency assistance. As part of this assistance, the EU has purchased altogether 150 intensive care device, 100 triage containers with equipment, 800.000 masks, 100 oxygen concentrators, reagence for 25000 tests on COVID as well financed 15 cargo flights for Serbia. During the pandemic the EU in Serbia reached over 15000 vulnerable people and their families, providing them with food and hygiene packages.