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J. Joksimović: The EU seven-year budget important for us as well

July 21 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: The EU seven-year budget important for us as well

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated that the heavily negotiated but eventually agreed seven-year budget of the EU and the special Recovery Fund (called Next Generation) has shown that the EU is still the winning team for agreement, solidarity and acknowledging different needs of individual member states, particularly at the time of the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, it is important for Serbia as an acceding country to analyse all this, particularly focusing on the fact that the seven-year IPA 3 will amount to a total of EUR 12.5 billion (according to 2018 prices) for all candidate and potential candidate countries, in line with new rules that have not yet been fully defined.

In the period 2014–2020, the total amount of IPA available to beneficiaries was EUR 11.7 billion, of which Serbia received around EUR 200 million a year, i.e. around EUR 1.4 billion over the previous seven years.

“Now the project application procedure will be different, so we do not know how much of this amount each country will have available, it will certainly be slightly more than in the previous seven-year period, but not significantly more. EC President Ursula von der Leyen herself has also expressed regret at the fact that they had to reduce the amounts for the neighbourhood policy and pre-accession funds due to the amended proposal for recovery. Therefore, it is better than it used to be, but not as much as it was announced,” said Joksimović.

According to her, Serbia has so far been the one to use the available funds in the best way: “We have had important and well-implemented projects in the area of infrastructure, healthcare, education, innovation, energy, rule of law and public administration reform, agriculture, environment etc.”

“Now we also have a large number of projects that the line ministries are preparing and that we will submit for application, and we are particularly focusing on projects related to regional connectivity, environment, digitisation, education, and healthcare, which will certainly contribute to the strengthening of the Serbian economy’s resilience and narrowing the gap between our GDP and the EU’s average GDP, which is exactly the point of the EU’s cohesion and regional policies,” stated Joksimović.

She has added that Serbia is also expecting the publication of the Economic and Investment Plan regarding incentives for the Western Balkans, which was originally announced for May but was postponed for autumn due to the pandemic. According to her, this Plan will create additional possibilities for tackling the consequences of the pandemic and for including the Serbian economy into the European path towards recovery.

Joksimović has explained that every investment, grant or favourable loan in the upcoming period will be vital for the recovery of the economy and the overall development. 

With regard to the IPA seven-year perspective, Joksimović has emphasised that she as the Minister of European Integration and National IPA Coordinator, along with the Ministry she heads, has for years been responsible for the preparation and negotiations for chapter 22 that covers regional policy and coordination of structural instruments, which implies the preparation for transitioning to much larger structural funds when Serbia becomes an EU member. In that context, she has stated that her Ministry has prepared and sent to Brussels an Action Plan as the opening benchmark for chapter 22, adding that they are now waiting for the European Commission’s response. Joksimović has further said that she believes it is one of the most important chapters Serbia has been preparing, adding that it could be ready for opening this or the following year.

Source: Tanjug