Europe Supports Development of South and South-West Serbia

19 July 2010, Vranje

Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Božidar Đelić, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, Ambassador Vincent Degert, and the Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Serbia, Beatrice Meyer, signed the agreement which secured EUR 17.5 million support from the European Union, the Government of Switzerland and the Government of Serbia, to the South and South West Serbia.
The funds will be used for the implementation of the European Partnership with Municipalities Programme – PROGRES, which will, in the next three years, support accelerated development of 25 municipalities. The European Union, the Government of Switzerland and the Government of Serbia have provided EUR 13.5 million, EUR 2.5million and no less than EUR 1.5 million respectively.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Deputy Prime Minister, Božidar Đelić, said:”I am glad to see friends of all political persuasions who have come to represent their municipalities. The European Union is our strategic partner, and this Programme is a starting point for the preparation of municipalities for much bigger funds that will become available. “

”We want to strengthen capacities of the municipalities in the South and South-West Serbia and, thus, to reduce differences between undeveloped and developed regions. The relevance of the projects applying for financial support is important, but what is necessary is that the technical documentation is complete. Otherwise, these projects cannotbe considered ready for funding. You, the municipalities, need to lead activities, to take responsbility of your future and work on it, “said Ambassador Degert

Beatrice Meyer, the Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Serbia, said that Switzerland has a long tradition of supporting Serbia. ”Our support will primarily be directed towards integrating the principles of good governance to increase service effectiveness. The other element of our support is work on migration management“, said Meyer.

PROGRES will help partner municipalities to enhance infrastructure, improve the quality of services rendered to citizens and businesses, modernise their management in accordance with good governance principles, and promote their development potentials. The Programme will also strengthen the capacities of local institutions for obtaining and using donor funds, in particular pre-accession funds of the European Union.

Strategically, PROGRES supports efforts of the Government of Serbia to promote balanced regional development, reform of public administration and integration in the European Union.

The Programme will be implemented by the UNOPS, in cooperation with municipalities involved in PROGRES, line ministries and institutions of the Government of Serbia, and other national and international partners.