The European Affairs Fund of AP Vojvodina is currently implementing projects in the segments of water management, agriculture, tourism, sports, public health, energy efficiency, culture and environmental protection
The European Affairs Fund of AP Vojvodina is currently implementing projects in the segments of water management, agriculture, tourism, sports, public health, energy efficiency, culture and environmental protection. Vidosava Enderic has been the head of the European Affairs Fund of AP Vojvodina for more than two years. She talks about the EU funding we have received and prospects for future cooperation and plans…
It has been two years that you were appointed the director of the European Affairs Fund of AP Vojvodina. Could you sum up your results so far?
— I may say that the results the Fund achieved in withdrawing grants from the available EU funds are most satisfactory. I believe that our activities help disseminate information and increase knowledge on project financing, while, at the same time, provide support to our partners in the development and implementation of successfully approved projects. We have been recognized as a worthy partner. It gives me great pleasure to say that, in the previous two years, we have had the highest number of approved EU projects so far. In this period, we have implemented 17 EU projects, whose value exceeds EUR 19 million. I would also like to highlight the important role the Fund plays in building the capacities for European integration activities. Firstly, there is the Specialised Programme “Management of Regional Development through EU Funds” we have been implementing for several years. Moreover, the Fund has been focusing on providing support and enhancing the cooperation with municipalities in terms of presenting them the EU funding opportunities. A great scope of the Fund’s activities has been devoted to the promotion of Vojvodina and its cultural, economic, scientific and educational capacities, as well as cooperating with European cities, regions and their institutions, which we have been doing successfully through our office in Brussels.
Could you tell us something about the ongoing projects and calls?
— At any given moment, the EU has open calls under which you may submit applications and they vary depending on the topic they cover. For us, in Vojvodina, one of the most important calls is definitely the next call for proposals under the cross-border cooperation (CBC) between Hungary and Serbia. Other programmes, such as the Danube Transnational Programme, are currently evaluating the project proposals submitted in the previous period. All in all, we have a dynamic period ahead of us in terms of preparing new project proposals. In the meantime, we are still conducting activities relating to our ongoing projects. The Fund is currently
implementing projects in the segments of water management, agriculture, tourism, sports, public health, energy efficiency, culture and environmental protection. I would particularly like to underline a project of strategic importance for our country – “The complex water management development of the area of the Baja-Bezdan Canal – BABECA”, worth about EUR 8.6 million, which will contribute to the improvement of the functionality of the DTD canal network and flood prevention system through the rehabilitation of the Sebesfok sluice and the reconstruction of the Bezdan lock which has not been reconstructed over a quarter of a century.
In which segments does the EU help Vojvodina the most?
— Vojvodina is certainly the leader in withdrawing funds under the CBC programmes thanks to its good geographical position and the fact that it borders three EU Member States. The CBC projects allocate funds for tourism development and preservation of cultural heritage in the border areas, as well as for boosting the economic competitiveness of small and medium- sized enterprises through innovation, promotion of energy efficiency, preservation of public health, improvement of communal infrastructure and social protection and services. However, the majority of the programmes allocate some of their funds for environmental protection and conservation of biodiversity. Due to the increasingly frequent bad weather caused by climatic changes, the segment of risk and environmental catastrophes prevention and emergency response to them occupy an important place in the programmes. I would like to indicate that in the previous two years, only within the framework of the CBC programmes, 170 projects (total value of ca. EUR 127.7 million) have been approved EU co-financing, whereas 129 projects have been from Vojvodina (total value of ca. EUR 115 million). Thus, out of the total value of projects approved under the CBC programmes, almost 90% of the funds have been allocated to beneficiaries from Vojvodina.
Which sector could benefit from more funds and more calls for project submission?
— When it comes to devising priorities, the EU puts a lot of effort and funding in covering as many segments as possible. However, Serbia, as a candidate country, has access to limited resources from the joint EU budget that are channelled through external assistance, although our country, realistically speaking, needs greater investments. Our goal is to be ready for receiving funds which will significantly be increased following Serbia’s accession into the EU and the opening of EU structural and investment funds. At the beginning, our results will have a significant impact on the allocation of funds for Serbia in the future period. We must be ready to stand side by side with our European partners and be either as successful or even more successful in withdrawing available funds.