The Republic of Serbia began receiving international assistance to a greater extent since 2001, in order to more efficiently implement comprehensive social, political and economic reforms. In the first period (until 2002), the donor support consisted mainly of humanitarian assistance aimed at meeting the urgent social needs of the population and addressing immediate needs - providing support to the import of electricity and the recovery of national energy systems, providing the missing drugs, and solving the refugee issues.
Following the Thessaloniki Summit of the Heads of State or Government of the EU Member States and Candidate Countries, which was held in June 2003, at which the EU confirmed its unequivocal support to the European future of the Western Balkan countries, the donor support has gradually been increasingly directed towards supporting the structural reforms, as a response to the challenges that accompany the process of European integration.
Based on the concluded bilateral and multilateral International Framework Agreements on development cooperation and Agreements on the implementation of various instruments and programmes financed from international development assistance funds, the Republic of Serbia has funds available from various international funds with which the implementation of strategic reforms in the process of Serbia's accession to the EU and its socio-economic development are financed.
The international development assistance to the Republic of Serbia includes the support by bilateral and multilateral development partners, including the financial support of international financial institutions, and is provided either in the form of grants (including humanitarian aid) or as concessional loans, which are granted under significantly better conditions than those dictated by the market.
The Donor community in the Republic of Serbia consists of over 30 bilateral donors/development partners, multilateral organizations and international financial institutions.
The European Union is the leading provider of grant funds to the Republic of Serbia over the past 15 years. From 2001 until the end of 2016, the EU support amounted to more than EUR 3 billion, while in the same period, the largest provider of concessional loans was the European Investment Bank.
Areas financed by international development assistance funds in the Republic of Serbia are grouped into nine priority sectors and three thematic areas, and are defined in the document "National Priorities for International Assistance in the Republic of Serbia 2014-17, with projections until 2020". This strategic programming document allows for greater harmonisation of international development assistance with national priorities, so that donor interventions are complementary to national priorities and public allocations from the country budget for the implementation of strategic reforms. In addition, this prevents overlapping of donor activities and ensures the rationalization of these activities and the greatest possible economy.