European Commission and Serbia to sign Agreement worth €168 million
The Head of the European Commission's Delegation to the Republic of Serbia Ambassador Josep M. LLOVERAS and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar DJELIĆ will sign in Valjevo on 1 April 2009 a Financing Agreement for €168 million in non-refundable assistance to Serbia. The signing will take place in the City Hall in Valjevo at 13.30h, where EU ambassadors accredited to Serbia are spending their day to meet citizens and the local administration, talk to students and visit a number of EU or bilaterally supported projects in the town.
Co-operation continues - Lloveras and Djelic at the IPA 2007 signing
The funds from the 2008 Instrument for Pre Accession Assistance (IPA) National Programme will be used for supporting reforms aimed at approximating the Serbian legal system and standards with those of the EU. To that effect, over a quarter of the €168 million will go to projects which are directly related to the introduction of the acquis communitaire and improve Serbia's capability to assume the obligations of EU membership. For example, the Serbian transport sector will be supported in streamlining its efficiency and project preparation and implementation; there will be support to implement standards for hazardous waste management and to expand medical waste management to additional health centres; and measures to control and eradicate rabies and swine fever in Serbia will be introduced, etc.
Announcing the signing, the Head of the EC Delegation to Serbia Josep M. LLOVERAS said: "The projects which will be funded through the Commission's IPA National programme will continue to support the sectors of the Serbian economy and social sphere which are crucial for the improvement of people's everyday lives. This is all the more important in the context of the current economic crisis. IPA will also support reforms in key sectors of public administration which are necessary for the introduction of European standards. Through these programmes, the EU is showing its commitment to Serbia's European integration and supporting efforts to introduce European standards which are necessary to make Serbia's intention to become a member of the European family a reality."
The 2008 IPA National Programme includes the following key projects:
- Municipal infrastructure support will provide assistance for the improvement of institutional and regulatory framework for municipal infrastructure services, and support for Public Utility Company (PUC) transformation, improved municipal infrastructure programming and project preparation and implementation of selected municipal infrastructure projects.
- Strengthening the institutional capacities of the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) – This will increase the expertise and capacity in terms of macroeconomic and strategic economic planning, implementation of strategies and policies such as a strategy for liberalization of capital movements and a strategy for more efficient long-term execution of inter-bank transactions on domestic and money markets, thereby contributing to assuring their compatibility with European standards. The project will help to promote the preparation of the entire financial and banking sector for integration into the EU financial system.
- The Support to Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) project is aimed at providing temporary housing solutions through building and awarding of apartments, distribution of construction material sets, income generation actions and livelihood enhancement. The project will also provide free legal aid and assistance to eligible individuals and families. As in the past years, the most vulnerable groups of domicile citizens in municipalities where this project is implemented will benefit from housing solutions.
- European integration scholarships will offer specialized training programmes for central and local government civil servants, as well as community multipliers within institutions such as universities or media, to effectively cope with the challenges and opportunities arising out of Serbia’s European perspective; Scholarships will also be awarded to recent graduates with relevant educational backgrounds, to participate in academic programmes on EU integration studies at universities in the EU.
- The support for fighting corruption will have the Anti-corruption Agency as its main beneficiary, aiming to establish a fully-operational institution with trained staff at all levels, in line with EU best practice in the anticorruption area. The project should also lead to the establishment of an integrated IT system with appropriate software for management and tracking of cases and complaints and increased coordination amongst relevant State bodies involved in the fight against corruption. Promotional activities to help citizens better understand what corruption is and mechanisms for its prevention will also be part of this project.
- In the education sector, the programme will support the increased inclusion of children from marginalised and special needs groups in the system of preschool and elementary education, and to reduce their dropout rate by formalising and broadening the support that is provided by teaching assistants and community liaison coordinators. The project should result in higher educational attainment for poor and marginalised children and youth, increased school completion rates and greater access to possibilities for continued education. This will help to boost their employability and improve the living conditions of some of the most vulnerable populations. A parallel project from this sector should help the Ministry of Education develop and implement a Quality Assurance System for general education and vocational education training (VET) which will give priority to the development of a national examination system. This project also aims to develop and adopt a final exam model for the end of elementary education; develop and adopt a model of general Set of Final Exams and develop and endorse a system and model for gaining qualifications at relevant levels (current levels II-V);
The funds provided for the National IPA programme are in addition to the funds that Serbia receives for the Cross Border co-operation Programmes with the neighbouring countries and to the ones for the Multi-beneficiary IPA programme which is financing regional and horizontal programmes for the Western Balkans. Since 2000, the European Union has through various grant assistance programmes and credit lines provided over €2 billion to Serbia and another €1 billion has been tentatively earmarked for reform assistance for 2007 – 2011.
For more information: Aleksandar Djordjević, Press and Information Officer (+381 11 30 83 200); Amelia Neacsu, Press and Communication Officer (+381 11 30 83 200)