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J. Joksimović: Serbia treated as member state in application for Solidarity Fund

August 12 2020 | Belgrad

J. Joksimović: Serbia treated as member state in application for Solidarity Fund

Commenting on the news that Croatia will receive around EUR 88.9 million from the Solidarity Fund for the recovery from the earthquake that struck Zagreb in March, Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has recalled that Serbia has already received money from this Fund following the devastating floods of 2014, adding that it then had a treatment of an equal EU member state. She has further noted that Serbia has applied for those funds again due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked by Tanjug to comment on the news that Croatia as an EU member state will receive assistance from the Solidarity Fund, Joksimović, who is also the National IPA Coordinator, has recalled that her first activity as the newly appointed minister was to prepare and send an application for the EU Solidarity Fund after the devastating floods of 2014.    

She has said that, in 2015, the EU adopted a decision on the allocation of EUR 60.2 million in grants that were used for flood relief and the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure in 72 out of 119 local self-governments.    

“Serbia was then treated as a full member state, while these funds were used for the reconstruction of healthcare centres, outpatient clinics, schools and kindergartens, as well as for the construction of preventive infrastructure, new bridges and roads, for the reconstruction of water-supply and sewage systems, for landslide remediation and for watercourse regulation,” emphasised Joksimović.    

She has stated that it is extremely important that, after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the European Union decided to expand the scope of this Fund to providing assistance not only in cases of natural disasters but also in situations of large-scale public health endangerment. 

“This decision is equally important for all the countries affected by the pandemic, because both EU member states and countries in the process of accession can apply for support from the Fund under equal conditions,” said Joksimović.    

Joksimović has said that, after the adoption of the aforementioned decision, Serbia established the Working Group for the preparation of the application for the EU Solidarity Fund at her initiative, adding that she sent the application to the European Commission on 18 June.    

“I would particularly like to emphasise that, in addition to our application, the European Commission received 21 more applications, bearing in mind that many countries have suffered socio-economic losses caused by the pandemic,” stated Joksimović.    

She has stressed that she has recently received a letter from the competent European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, who informed her that Serbia’s application for the EU Solidarity Fund had been received and that it would be considered, adding that, by the end of the year, in accordance with the procedure and following the analysis of all applications, the European Commission would present a proposed decision on the allocation of funds to all the countries that had applied for assistance from this Fund to be agreed by the Council and the European Parliament.    

“I expect that, by the end of the year, the European Commission will finalise the extensive work on analysing and assessing the applications, so that we could count on receiving a part of those funds in 2020. It is important to stress that these funds can serve to refund a part of the costs that Serbia has already had in the previous period or the costs of the implementation of activities undertaken for the purpose of strengthening our healthcare system, such as the purchase of medical and protective equipment, engagement of additional staff, conducting of laboratory analyses, construction of healthcare infrastructure etc.,” underlined Joksimović.

Source: Tanjug