News archive


30. July 2015.

Gadžin Han – At its first annual meetiung, the Managing Board of the European PROGRESS Program approved a plan for conducting the final works on the new block of the hospital in Vranje and on the construction and equipping of the building of the Emergency Treatment Center in Novi Pazar. These two projects will contribute to improving the quality of health care for half a million people of Pčinj and Kosovo-Pomoravlje districts.

During the presentation of the progress that the Program achieved during the first year, it was pointed out that the European Union and the Swiss government had provided nearly 2.8 million euros to support 82 projects in the fields of infrastructure, competitiveness of municipalities and good governance. Since June 2014, six public calls have been conducted and three more started, including a call for project proposals for local infrastructure, which was announced by the Department for Contracting and Financing Programs from EU funds at the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia (CFCU).

Branko Budimir, the Chairman of the Managing Board and Assistant Director of the Office for European Integration, praised the progress made during the first year of the Program. However, he also stressed the need for local self-governments to make more efforts, so that the projects could achieve the expected results and be sustainable. Mr. Budimir also expressed his expectation that the municipalities would prepare a sufficient number of quality projects to benefit from the funding that would be available to them through the European Progress Program.  

It was said that one of the key results achieved was the construction of a building of the bilingual department of the Subotica Faculty of Economics, the opening of which is expected in Bujanovac in October 2015.  Apart from the construction of the facility, the program will promote multi-ethnic cooperation and provide assistants to teachers of Serbian as a second language in schools in Presevo and Bujanovac.

The European Progress also provides technical assistance to the municipalities with the preparation of program budgets and plans for capital investments, the development of mechanisms for gender equality and the inclusion of most vulnerable groups. As part of the Program, training was organized on the modality of the contracts of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) in order to raise the capacity of municipalities to self-manage infrastructure projects.

Summarizing the conclusions of the discussion that took place during the meeting, Graham Tyndall, the Manager of the European Progress Program, said that there was agreement that the Program needed to intensify support to small and medium-sized enterprises, Roma and youth. The Program will try to respond to some of the proposals in the field of infrastructure, such as work on the protection from floods, which regularly afflict municipalities in the south and southwest Serbia.   .  

“We have established a good basis for successful implementation, approved a number of projects, and the development of new projects is already underway, "said Mr. Tyndall, noting that greater participation and responsibility of the municipalities was expected in the second year.  

“It turned out that the frequent political changes at the local level and the lack of economic projects were major obstacles in the previous year and they could, in the long run, reduce the effects of the Program."

During yesterday's sixth meeting, the Managing Board approved the criteria for public calls for the introduction of quality standards in SMEs and for projects to protect the geographical origin of the product. Both the initiatives, totaling 177, 000 euros, aim to improve the competitiveness of the municipalities covered by the Program. Support to the introduction of international quality standards will be focused on developing the potential for growth and a better quality of the products and services through the introduction of standards in at least 30 small and medium-sized enterprises, and agricultural cooperatives. The projects of providing support to the protection of geographical origin of products will contribute to making at least three new agricultural products registered for the geographic origin or geographical indication.

The meeting was chaired by the Office for European Integration of Serbia, and it was attended by representatives of the ministries of the Republic of Serbia, municipalities participating in the implementation of the European Progress Program, representatives of development agencies and projects, civil society and donors - representatives of the European Union and the Government of Switzerland.

The European Union and the Government of Switzerland will back activities of the European Progress, the program that contributes to the sustainable development of the southern and southwestern Serbia, with a total of 24.46 million euros. The approved projects will aim to strengthen local administration, create a favorable environment for the development of infrastructure and economy, as well as improve the implementation of social inclusion and employment policy.

The municipalities included by the Program are: Novi Pazar, Ivanjica, Nova Varos, Priboj, Prijepolje, Raska, Sjenica and Tutin in the southwest of Serbia, and Prokuplje, Blace, Zitorađa, Kursumlija, Leskovac, Bojnik, Vlasotince, Lebane, Medvedja, Crna Trava, Vranje, Bosilegrad, Bujanovac, Vladicin Han, Presevo, Surdulica, Trgoviste, Bruce, Aleksinac, Gadzin Han, Doljevac, Merosina, Svrljig, Babusnica, Bela Palanka and Knjazevac in the southeast of the country.  

Source: European Progress and Coordination Body