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EU support programs for Serbian business

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The total value of exports to the EU reached a record in 2022, 17.7 billion euros, which is 64.1 percent of total exports.

However, in order to see the broader picture and the additional importance of cooperation between the domestic economy and the public sector with the EU, the pre-accession funds that have been available to our companies and institutions for years can serve as illustrative examples.

Environmental Protection

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The key EU support instrument that finances the implementation of political, economic, legal and institutional reforms is the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). We have been beneficiaries of this assistance since 2007. From 2014 to 2020, around 1.5 billion euros were earmarked for Serbia.

The Center for EU Integration of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce points out that one of the most important goals of IPA III is to strengthen environmental protection, increase resistance to climate change, accelerate the transition to an economy with low carbon emissions, develop the digital economy and society, and strengthen sustainable connectivity in in all aspects. Through IPA III, 14 billion euros will be earmarked for the Western Balkans, and 42 percent will be earmarked for the transition to a green and sustainable economy and projects in the field of environmental protection. More than one billion euros will be made available to Serbia until the end of 2027.

Adaptation to standards

IPARD is an instrument for pre-accession assistance in the field of rural development. From 2014 to 2020, the EU provided 185 million euros from this instrument.

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In March of last year, the IPARD III program of Serbia, 2021-2027, was adopted. Financial support for this program has increased compared to the previous period to 288 million euros. With the contribution of Serbia and the private funds of the beneficiaries, this will provide over 580 million euros intended for the sector of agriculture and rural development.

Funds for roads, railways…

The Investment Framework for the Western Balkans (WBIF) is the main instrument in the preparation and implementation of strategic projects in the field of transport, energy, environmental protection and social infrastructure in countries in the process of EU accession. In Serbia, 45 projects worth seven billion euros in the public sector were financed through this program. For the development of enterprises and innovations in the Western Balkans, 246 million euros have been approved for financing SMEs through the WBEDIF program.

Horizon Europe

SMEs, large companies, research groups, institutes, universities, non-governmental organizations have the right to participate in this program. Unlike the previous programs, now for the first time the participation of individuals is also possible. Most of the funds – up to 70 percent – are intended for SMEs.

Program participants can receive a grant that covers 70, and sometimes 100 percent of the costs.

Innovations, regulations, standards…

The European Entrepreneurship Network (EEN) is an EU business support project. In the previous 14 years, over 18,000 domestic companies used the services of the Network.

Businessmen mostly participate in trainings and use advisory services provided by the Network’s experts – 75 percent of the total number. Over 6,000 Serbian companies participated in bilateral meetings and company missions, over 9,500 international business meetings were organized and over 420 cooperation agreements between domestic and foreign companies were signed.

The list is endless…

Through the European Fund for Southeast Europe, for example, 1.3 billion euros of investments have been approved so far, 217.3 million euros through the Green Development Fund, almost 16 million through the Regional Energy Efficiency Program, the EU Program for the Competitiveness of SMEs (COSME) 2, 3 million euros…

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