Belgrade, 10 December 2021

Integrating ideas, resources and potentials

Between 13 Octobre and 10 Decembre the local self-governments in Šumadija, Western, Southern and Eastern Serbia had an opportunity to apply for the technical assistance through the public call of the European Union Programme for Local Development Programme – EU PRO Plus.

The cities and municipalities which successfully apply for assistance will be receiving expertise to draft strategy papers for local sustainable development. These strategies, based on an integrated approach to development, will help local self-governments in a particular geographical area to define common solutions to issues that go beyond the boundaries of individual municipalities, such as brownfield sites and industrial zones, informal settlements, solving social or environmental problems or protecting cultural heritage in certain areas. Overall, the strategies should provide for forward planning in a number of sectors – ranging from education, economic development and protection of the environment.

"The introduction of an integrated approach to territorial development is an important part of the accession process within Chapter 22 related to the regional policy and preparation for the use of EU structural funds. Also, the goal of the Government of Serbia is that European integration of our country results in balanced regional development, and cohesion policy and structural funds are actually aimed at reducing regional disparities and providing equal living and development conditions in all parts of the country", said Jadranka Joksimović, Minister of European Integration. Joksimović added that this approach will optimise the use of European funds, as well as other sources of funding, and that an even greater effect of support will be achieved through coordinated cooperation of all levels of government, which is one of the key postulates of the integrated approach to development.

The local self-governments with the status of a city, independently if they apply for a given urban area, or in partnership with at least three local self-governments and the competent regional development agency for the application for a wider area of ​​influence of the urban area in accordance with defined criteria were eligible to apply.

"Through this EU PRO Plus activity municipalities will be better equipped to promote key aspects contributing to the development of their communities. That is of course the economy, but also land management, infrastructure, education, environment protection and other sectors. It is important to widen the scope of sustainable development and this requires careful planning taking into account the wider picture. A good, comprehensive plan is essential for good implementation," said the Head of the European Union Delegation to Serbia, Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret.

For potential beneficiaries to be adequately informed about the criteria of this call but also to learn more about the model of integrated development, the EU PRO Plus Capacity building Sector had an online info-session for those who did not manage to attend one of the seven organised in person. The results of this public call are expected by the end of January 2022.