In the Republic of Serbia, the European Agency for Reconstruction manages a cumulative portfolio of some €1.3 billion worth of European Union funds, 90% of which has been contracted as of February 2008.
In 2008, the Agency continues to support projects that combat discrimination against minorities and vulnerable groups. Activities are also underway for reconstruction work at two key border crossings and refurbishment of secondary crossings. In the health a comprehensive management training programme for the health sector in accordance with international standards is on-going, as is a major project to improve the disposal of medical waste.
Assistance is given to the Serbia’s Competition Protection Commission for protection of competition in the Serbian economy, as well as to the Serbia Geodetic Authority for updating of the land register (cadastre).
Other projects have supported the computerisation of municipal courts and the upgrading of prison security. The Treasury has started to use a sophisticated Financial Management Information System also supplied through an EU-funded project.
In the fields of energy and transport, the Agency has been continuing to renew district heating systems in five key towns, as well as managing an extensive project to reduce pollution from a major power station near Belgrade. In transport, the focus has been on Serbia’s main rivers – with projects to improve navigation on the Danube and Sava, as well as design for replacement of a river bridge in the city of Novi Sad.
In 2007, projects focused on reforms needed in prior to implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU.
Here are some of the highlights of the Agency’s work in Serbia in 2007:
The Agency has been active in Serbia since December 2000. It first managed a €180 million Emergency Assistance Programme launched at that time, which was designed to help get the country back on its feet. Many years of economic mismanagement and external sanctions, and hostilities in 1999, had seriously impaired power supplies and reduced the standard of living of Serbian citizens. Substantial assistance was given for fuel oil and electricity imports and to help people through the winter. Medicines were locally bought and distributed. Subsidised vegetable oil and sugar were provided to consumers.
By 2001, the Agency concentrated on more medium and long-term investment in the key sectors of energy, health, agriculture, and enterprise development. In 2002, the European Union stepped up its support for the longer-term challenges of economic development, promoting good governance and rule of law. That year the Agency managed a €170 million programme, including projects to rehabilitate ailing infrastructure, support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), promote reform and further encourage an independent media and civil society.
In 2003, the emphasis shifted to include the areas of public finance, justice and home affairs, as well as to the process of administrative decentralisation. Support for European integration also stood high on the agenda with efforts focused on helping Serbia to harmonise its institutions and regulations with European Union standards.
The Agency's priority in 2004 was strengthening the partnership with the Government in the process of European integration. The programme also focused on fostering economic development and paving the way for investment from international financial institutions. For the first time reintegration of refugees and internally displaced people was included in the programme - a key development for Serbia, which hosts the region's largest population of uprooted people.
In 2006, the Agency continued to focus on strengthening institutions - from the judiciary and the media to local government and the health system - all in an effort to assist the country's transition to a market economy and its integration into the EU. The 2005 and 2006 programmes focused on key challenges such as developing long-term solutions to help the most vulnerable groups, establishing competition and consumer protection bodies, and creating a competitive economy that would attract domestic and foreign investors.
This section gives the current state of the Agency's activities in Serbia (summary).
These are the latest activities according to each sector (May 2008):