The policy of sustainable and balanced regional development is crucial

22. May 2018. | Aranđelovac

The policy of sustainable and balanced regional development is crucial

The EU PRO Programme has been presented today as part of the EU support for the development of local municipalities, which should contribute to the improvement of competitiveness in 99 local self-governments in the region of Šumadija and Western Serbia, as well as in the region of Southern and Eastern Serbia, while the projects that will be supported shall be selected through public calls, according to predefined criteria.

The Programme includes support to entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises for their procurement of equipment and service improvement, as well as the improvement of specialized services for small and medium-sized enterprises. The amount of EUR 25 million is allocated for implementation, as designated by the EU and the Government of Serbia, and the period of implementation will be three years.

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović had made her address at the presentation of the Programme, saying that the European integration represents the foreign policy orientation of Serbia, which has given stability to our country, brought in new investments, improved its image and, therefore, its influence in international relations, visa liberalization, student programmes, numerous donations, development aid and IPA funds...
"As a candidate country, we annually receive around EUR 200 million in grants. The Ministry of European Integration and myself, as a minister, have been coordinating the process of programming of these funds for four years now, and we are negotiating with the EU on the areas that these funds will be directed to and on the readiness of projects which can be financed with these funds," Joksimović has said, adding that major part of the projects must be prepared in a right way.

Stating that there is not always enough money in the budget, and that there will not always be enough money in the EU, Joksimović has said that the EU had, therefore, created the cohesion policy or a policy of solidarity and sustainable regional development of the European regions, and that this policy should be mastered by Serbia now, during its preparations to become a member of the EU.
"These are the topics of sustainable regional development, reduction of regional differences and preparations for the use of even larger funds which will be available to our country when we become a member of the EU. I expect from you, as representatives of municipalities, to also work on the preparation of good projects, but also to promote and raise visibility at your local self-governments on how much money we have indeed received from the EU," Joksimović has said.

Stressing that the transparency of fund spending for programmes is of great importance, Joksimović has said that this is the money of taxpayers living in the EU Member States, and once it becomes a member, Serbia would also be in a position to give, and not just to use the assistance provided by the EU.
"That is why regional and cohesion policy is very important, and the main leaders of this policy will be local self-governments and a network of institutions at the local level," she has said, directing the present members from 99 Serbian municipalities to development agencies, numbering 16 in Serbia, in order to identify good ideas and make good projects with their assistance.

She has stated that some of the municipalities covered by this project have been involved in Cross-Border and Transnational Cooperation Projects for years, and she has recalled cooperation with Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria, saying that these are all important programmes, but that some municipalities, due to their central position, did not have the opportunity to participate in these programmes.
"I have insisted that this programme is not just a project aimed at the most underdeveloped municipalities as was the case before, and now we are at a stage of expanding a good project where all the municipalities are involved and really help the local and economic development, which means everything," Joksimović has said.

She has said that local economic development also means assistance for the establishment of small and medium-sized enterprises and, for those already established, it implies a possibility for renewing their equipment, improving technology and working methods, new jobs and it opens the possibility for the sustainable development of local communities.
"The key word today is "development", a policy of sustainable, balanced regional development. We have talked a lot about it in the past, but we did not do much. We will also have to change the legal framework and the Law on Regional Development, and bring a new umbrella strategy for regional development, where the local self-governments will provide greatest help in defining our national policy and regional development strategy," Joksimović has said.

She has added that she wants the citizens of Serbia to know that the EU, despite its sometimes confusing messages that perplex and lead to their not knowing whether the EU wants Serbia to be its member, has its own history, that it represents a natural environment for Serbia, and that it consists of countries with which Serbia cooperates the most and from which the highest amount of investments originate.
"The EU also has an interest in Serbia. It sometimes passes through different stages of review, as to whether the enlargement is good at this moment or should it wait for the EU to consolidate. This should not discourage us - these are just the stages that have also existed before, but our interest indeed is to preserve the stability, economic progress, political stability and regional stability, because only in that way will we provide our citizens with what we have promised, and that is a better life and a higher standard of living and the fact that regional development should contribute to reducing our internal migration to Belgrade," Joksimović has said.

Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Sem Fabrizi, has said that this project is focused on the regions where assistance is currently needed the most, and that it deals with various areas, including education, business climate and social cohesion.

He has recommended to the local self-governments to get intensively involved in this project, as it will allow for the companies to cooperate more efficiently with the local authorities.

He has stressed that the EU considers small and medium-sized enterprises to be the essence of the modern economy, adding that the social and other components are also considered in addition to helping the business world.
"The European Union is Serbia's first trade partner - if you look at the previous three years, Serbia's exports have tripled, trade exchange is 64 percent, and 78 percent of foreign investment comes from the EU," Fabrizi has said, adding that the EU had provided EUR 3 billion in grants over the period of the past 10 years.

Speaking about the EU accession process, Fabrizi has said that this process has been going on for four years, and that he believes that this year will be crucial for Serbia's accession, as confirmed by the EC 2025 Strategy, as well as by the last week's Sofia Summit.

Source: Tanjug


 

 

 

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