The agreement on additional funds, which will be aimed at supporting local governments and small businesses to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic, as well as supporting the health system, was signed by Minister for European Integration, Jadranka Joksimović and Head of the European Union Delegation to Serbia, Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret at the meeting of the EU PRO Plus Programme Steering Committee held on 9 December 2021 at the Palace of Serbia. Minister Joksimović underlined that balanced regional development is one of the most important aspects of European integration and that the Government of Serbia, together with the European Union and UNOPS partners, has been implementing local development projects that contribute to strengthening local governments and have tangible results. She added that the essence of the EU PRO Plus is to reach every citizen, regardless of which part of the country they live in.
"An additional ten million Euros are intended to help recover, improve and strengthen resilience to COVID-19 consequences of both the local self-governments and the small and medium enterprises sector which is the backbone of our economy," Joksimović added.
In addition to the economy, support will be provided to vulnerable groups in order to achieve inclusive growth. The Minister underlined that European integration is the right instrument to engage all capacities so that everyone gets a chance to contribute not only to reforms but also to personal progress, better living standards, and thus to the local community and the whole country.
"Today's signing is a clear sign that the European Union remains committed to supporting Serbia not only in preventing COVID-19, but also in helping the country recover from the consequences." The additional ten million Euros that adds to the original budget of 30 million Euros is an excellent example of the agility of the European Commission and the strong partnership between the EU Delegation and the Ministry of European Integration, which join forces to respond to Serbia's priority needs," said Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret.
Ambassador added that the EU through EU PRO Plus also reaffirms its continued support to local development in Serbia, contributing to reduction of disparities between local self-governments through better management of development activities and by stimulating economic growth, as well as strengthening social infrastructure and social cohesion. Also, the Ambassador pointed out that in order to achieve comprehensive socio-economic progress, an EU tested, tailor made territorial approach to development will be piloted through the EU PRO Plus Programme.
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, 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.