"One of the most important aspects of European integration is balanced regional development, and together with the European Union and our partners from UNOPS, in recent years we have been implementing local development projects to contribute to strengthening local self-governments and yielding concrete results," said Jadranka Joksimović, Minister of European Integration.
"The additional funds of ten million Euros are intended for improving and strengthening resilience and for recovery from Covid 19 at the level of local self-governments, but also in the sector of small and medium enterprises, which are the backbone of our economy," Joksimović added.
Along with the support to the economy, the aid will be granted to the vulnerable in order to achieve inclusive growth.
"We strive to employ all capacities and provide everyone with a chance to contribute not only to the reform processes but also to personal development, a better standard of living, and thus to the local community and the entire country. And European integration is the right instrument for achieving such results ", stressed Minister Joksimović and added that the EU PRO Plus programme is aimed to reach every citizen, regardless of which part of the country he lives in.
“Today's signing is a clear sign that the EU remains committed to supporting Serbia in not only preventing COVID-19 but also helping the country in recovery from its consequences. The 10 million Euros addition to the original 30 million Euros budget of the Programme is a great example of agility of the European Commission and strong partnership between the EU Delegation and the Ministry of European Integration who join efforts to respond to priority needs of Serbia" said the Head of the European Union Delegation to Serbia , Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret.
“The EU through EU PRO Plus also confirms its continuous support to local development in Serbia, contributing to reduction of disparities among the regions through improving management of territorial development and fostering economic growth, and enhancing social infrastructure and social cohesion”, said Giaufret.
The Ambassador also underlined the importance of the territorial approach to development, which has proved successful in the EU in ensuring balanced development, and which will be piloted in Serbia through the EU PRO Plus programme for comprehensive socio-economic development.
Minister Joksimović and Ambassador Giaufret also announced three EU PRO Plus public calls, worth a total of 4.5 million Euros, through which the EU will support the development of local infrastructure, competitiveness of small and medium enterprises and the improvement of social services in 99 local self-governments in two regions of Šumadija and Western Serbia and Southern and Eastern Serbia.
They called on all partners from the local level, local self-governments, business support organisations and civil society to follow the opportunities given through the public calls and to apply for grants with good and concrete projects.
Cities and municipalities can apply for the Public Call for Local Infrastructure projects with projects that will contribute to a better life of the people through the improvement of public infrastructure facilities, including renovation and construction of educational, health and social protection institutions, sports and cultural facilities, and improvement of public utilities, while the special focus should be on the vulnerable groups. The Call with a total budget of 3.4 million Euros is open by 31 January 2022.
In addition, business support organisations, such as regional development agencies, business incubators, science and technology parks, clusters, business associations, chambers of commerce, as well as research Institutes and academic organisations can apply for a public call aimed at improving competitiveness and sustainability of small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs in Šumadija, Western, Southern and Eastern Serbia. The European Union has allocated 500,000 Euros for this call, open by 2 February 2022.
The third call, intended for civil society and improvement of social protection in the territory covered by EU PRO Plus, will be published in January 2022.