Today, the first meeting of the Steering Committee of “European Partnership with Municipalities Programme - PROGRES” was held in Novi Pazar. More than 20 attending mayors, representatives of the Government of Serbia European Integration Office, line ministries, donors – the European Union and the Government of Switzerland, representatives of development agencies, civil society and United Nations office for Project Services – UNOPS, implementing PROGRES, discussed and unanimously approved the Operating Report for the first three months of the Programme.
Ognjen Mirić, Deputy Director of the European Integration Office, and Chairman of the Steering Committee, said: “We have worked hard preparing the Report together with local governments. It contains many plans and I’m sure that in the next three years we will implement many infrastructure projects but also strengthen municipal capacities. Active participation of municipalities in the implementation of a range of activities within PROGRES will serve as a kind of preparation for the use of pre-accession funds of the European Union.”
The approval of the Report meant that green light was given for the announcement of calls for proposals for the funding of infrastructure projects and Citizen Involvement Fund projects, which are a result of partnership between civil society organisations and local governments. Preconditions have also been created for continuing work on activities that should support municipalities in their efforts to build or improve the operations of citizen assistant centres. Finally, the type of support to be provided to municipalities by PROGRES in their preparation of master and detailed regulation plans,, whose development is provided for in the Law on Planning and Construction, will be harmonized in the following period.
Greame Tyndall, PROGRES manager, said: “Our key goal is a better life for the citizens of South and South-West Serbia. We can achieve this only if we work together. PROGRES will cooperate with the mayors, assemblies, ministries, civil society and the media, to create the environment conducive to economic development.”
PROGRES implementation began in July 2010. The Programme aims at supporting the development of of 25 municipalities of South and South West Serbia. It wil help partner municipalities to improve infrastructure, increase the quality of the services provided to citizens and businesses, modernize their operations in accordance with the principles of good governance, and promote their development potentials. Strategically, PROGRES is in line with the Government of Serbia commitment to support a balanced development, reform administration, and continue progress in the field of European integrations.
The European Union set aside EUR 13.5 million, the Government of Switzerland EUR 2.5 million, and the Government of Serbia participates with no less than EUR 1.5 million. PROGRES activities are also expected to secure additional funds, primarily through ministries, for the development of the South and South-West.