In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the European Agency for Reconstruction manages a cumulative portfolio of some €327 million worth of projects and programmes, 96% of which have been contracted, as of March 2008.
In 2008, the EU continues to assist the government in implementing political and economic reforms. Assistance is given in implementation of employment related policies, while a newly launched project supports the economic growth and improves the business climate through fostering development and performance of SMEs.
A key priority is the support to the decentralisation process, with a completed construction of new administrative headquarters to house the association of municipalities being completed. Activities are underway for renovation of prisons, as part of the EU assistance to the penitentiary reforms in the country.
Other projects are addressing the contaminated areas in the country as part of effort to eliminate industrial hotspots, while a pilot investment in building a waste water treatment plant is on-going.
2007 saw the completion of several projects on police reform. A key priority remained the support to the decentralisation process by bringing the public administration closer to EU standards. German expertise gave an EU-funded boost to the competition policy, while experts from Hungary and the Netherlands cooperated with the Ministry of Health and other state bodies to strengthen their ability to combat drug-related crimes.
Some of the highlights of the Agency’s work in 2007 are:
EAR's presence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia dates back to December of 2001 when the European Council decided to extend the Agency's official mandate to that country. Three months later, in March 2002, EAR established an operational centre in Skopje. The initial aim was the reconstruction of conflict-affected areas and support to confidence-building measures to bolster the implementation of the August 2001 Ohrid Framework Agreement.
By 2002, the Agency programmes supported the justice and home affairs sector. This included legislative reforms in integrated border management, immigration and asylum, and the fight against crime. Projects designed to improve inter-ethnic relations through civil society initiatives and to promote local government and private/financial sector development were also part of the Agency's focus.
The 2003 programme focused on further economic and social development. This covered local infrastructure projects, the design of vocational education & training (VET) programmes and the promotion of good human resources practices in enterprises. In the area of justice & home affairs the Agency's work focused on strengthening the customs administration and border control by developing police training systems and drafting immigration & asylum strategies.
Democracy & rule of law; economic & social development; justice & home affairs; and environment & natural resources topped the Agency's agenda in 2004. The programmes also involved training of minority group members to make it easier for them to find jobs in the civil service, thereby increasing minority representation in public institutions.
In 2005 the Agency saw the launching of the Municipal Award programme and recognised three municipalities for outstanding projects which have had a tangible and long-term impact on improving life in the community. 41 municipal infrastructure projects were also funded. In the area of judiciary,assistance has been given in establishing of the Training Institute for Judges and Prosecutors and providing an Information System in courts to reduce backlog of cases. The Agency also supported the development and implementation of a National Action Plan for Employment, including equipment and training for staff of employment bureaux.
In 2006, the programmes helped the government increase the representation of minority communities in the civil service. Other projects were aimed at increasing support to small and medium-sized companies in an effort to create jobs. Support also went to vocational education and training, police and judicial reform, and civil society organisations.
This section gives the current state of the Agency's activities in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (summary).
These are the latest activities according to each sector (May 2008):