The European Union is the largest donor in the Republic of Serbia. Since 2001, the EU has provided, through several various instruments and funds, more than EUR 3 billion in grants to the Republic of Serbia in order to support the reforms. The support from the EU funds is intended for the necessary legal, institutional, administrative, economic and social reforms on the path to the EU in various areas - from the judiciary, public administration, and public finances to education, employment, transport, agriculture, and environmental protection. Support also contributes to the development of local economies, reduction of discrepancies in regards to the development of different areas, providing the opportunities for employment, education and solving key challenges in society/country.
The Republic of Serbia is currently the beneficiary of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance 2014-2020 (IPA II), with around EUR 1.5 billion being allocated from it through Action Programmes. Approximately 36% of the funds are envisaged for reforms in the area of rule of law, democracy, and public administration, 50% for socio-economic development and investment in human resources, and 14% for agriculture and rural development.
Our country is a beneficiary of funds available through the Multi-beneficiary IPA, as an instrument that supports initiatives of regional importance for the Western Balkans region. Through this instrument, initiatives are being implemented aimed at regional linking of public services/institutions in different areas (customs, police, etc.), initiatives such as the Regional Housing Programme and those aimed at the development of transport and energy infrastructure, i.e. the implementation of the Connectivity Agenda. The funds allocated for this regional instrument for the period 2014-2020 amount to almost EUR 3 billion.
The cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes encourage the cooperation of border territories of neighbouring countries (cross-border cooperation) or the cooperation of parts or entire countries (transnational cooperation) in addressing issues of common interest such as cultural and economic cooperation, tourism, transport, service provision in different sectors, etc. The Republic of Serbia participates in seven cross-border cooperation programmes and two transnational cooperation programmes. In the period 2004-2016 over EUR 220 million has been contracted through these programmes in Serbia, while for the period 2014-2020 the EU has allocated EUR 260 million for the implementation of cross-border cooperation in our country. Union programmes represent a significant source of funding for initiatives in various areas, innovative solutions, investment in human resources and encouraging the mobility of young people. Their advantage is also that they enable the cooperation of legal and natural persons from EU Member States and acceding countries on concrete projects, and thus the adoption and implementation of proven best practices. The Republic of Serbia participates in 11 Union programmes.
In addition to the above, one of the main purposes of the IPA instrument is to build administrative capacities for implementing funds available after the accession to the EU, that is, in particular, the EU Cohesion policy funds. Cohesion policy is a major investment tool of the European Union for achieving growth and development and for strengthening the economic, social and territorial cohesion.
It is also important to highlight funds such as the EU Solidarity Fund and MADAD, which were established as a response from the European Union to the unpredictable challenges that the Union and candidate countries face (various natural disasters, the migrant crisis) and representing the Union's solidarity in resolving the concrete challenges.