Leading up to the EU & Western Balkan Summit that will take place on 17 May 2018 in Sofia, Schuman Associates kicks off a special edition of its monthly 'Country Digest’ featuring Western Balkans countries. First one – Serbia.
By all accounts 2018 is the year of Enlargement policy. On 6 February 2018 the Commissions adopted a Strategy for 'A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans', and it announced six flagship initiatives – a set of concrete actions to be implemented in the next two years. To support the implementation of the new flagship initiatives, the Commission proposed to top up the 1.07 BEUR already foreseen for the region for 2018. In this sense, more funding will be directed towards infrastructure investment in transport, energy & digital.
In April, the Commission published its annual Enlargement Package, including seven individual reports, taking stock of the progress made in the countries and recommending what reforms need to be implemented in the future. In the same month, a high level event was organized in Skopje on the topic of digital transformation of Western Balkans, discussing regional efforts around such issues as broadband rollout, cybersecurity and digital skills.
Two more high level events will take place in the upcoming months:
- EU-WB summit in Sofia (17 May 2018), organized by the Bulgarian Presidency, will be centered on the theme of connectivity with a view to improve the links with the Western Balkans and within the region.
- Berlin Process Summit in London, hosted by the UK, will be on inter-connectivity and advancing the digital agenda and entrepreneurship.
Did you know about Serbia and the EU?
- Serbia has been a candidate country since 2012.
- The Commission set 2025 as an indicative date for possible accession
- Since the start of the negotiations in January 2014, 12 out of 35 chapters have been opened, two of which provisionally closed.
- The EU is the largest provider of financial assistance to Serbia.
- For the period of 2014-2020, under IPA II programme, Serbia was allocated 1.5 BEUR to support reforms in area of democracy & governance, rule of law & fundamental rights, environment & climate action, transport and energy, competitiveness & innovation, education, employment and social policies, agriculture & rural development.
- In addition, 116.4 MEUR was awarded to Serbia from the Western Balkans Investment Framework, leveraging investments of 2.25 BEUR, for projects in transport, energy & environment and private sector development.
- Serbia also participates in a number of centrally managed programmes such as H2020, Erasmus +, COSME, Creative Europe.
- The IPA National Programme for 2017 amounts to 138.2 MEUR, with most of the funding supporting alignment with the EU acquis, justice, energy and environment.