€16 mil for Cross-Border Cooperation
Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic announced that as of today, European Union will allocate EUR 16 mil from Instrument for Pre accession Assistance (IPA) for cross-boarder cooperation programmes. He reminded that over the past four years, the EU financed 125 projects with nearly EUR 11 mil, but has now decided to increase funding, due to the fact that the previous resources were utilized well. The goal of the projects is to increase considerably assistance for human resources, rural and regional development, Mr. Djelic said, adding that cross-boarder cooperation is one of the most demanding. Serbia will soon sign agreements for use of IPA funds, and negotiations for 2009 will start late in March, he said.
Assistant Minister of Finance Gordana Lazarevic recalled that cross-border cooperation started with Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in 2004, when Serbia moved from high diplomacy to cooperation on the local level in line with EU rules. Out of the 800 projects prepared, 125 were approved. Serbia utilized 95% of the EU funds and has the capacity to implement much more, Mrs. Lazarevic underlined, adding that no project was cancelled for lack of commitment.
Mr. Josep Lloveras, Head of European Commission Delegation to Serbia, stated that cross-border cooperation projects are based on the principle of common benefit and announced they may be expanded to the territory of entire Serbia, instead of being limited to border municipalities. According to Mr. Lloveras, the EU will meet Serbia’s requests to develop cooperation in different areas, like economic cooperation, social issues, environment protection, organic food production and fight against corruption.
Representative of the European Agency for Reconstruction Mr. Christof Gofas said that the EU supports all kinds of cooperation through cross-boarder cooperation projects in order to improve socio-economic conditions in the areas where they are implemented.