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Unveiling the impact: EU investments in Serbia versus media coverage

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Over the past decade, the European Union has poured over four billion euros in grants into Serbia, fostering improvements in infrastructure, healthcare, transportation and more. However, according to Demostat, Serbian authorities and aligned media often downplay or disregard these contributions, leaving the public uninformed about the tangible benefits of EU cooperation and funding.

Despite substantial EU funding, the Serbian government and sympathetic media outlets frequently obscure or overlook the positive outcomes of European aid and collaboration. This lack of transparency deprives citizens of crucial information regarding the advantages of EU integration and the tangible results of Serbia’s partnership with the EU.

From the restoration of cultural landmarks like the Golubac Fortress to advancements in environmental conservation and education, EU-funded projects are making significant strides across Serbia. These initiatives range from modernizing infrastructure to supporting educational reforms and fostering economic growth.

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In 2022, Serbian exports to the EU reached a historic high, surpassing 18 billion euros. The EU remains Serbia’s primary trading partner, accounting for over half of its total trade in goods. Moreover, one in five Serbian workers is employed by EU-backed companies, underscoring the EU’s substantial contribution to Serbia’s economy.

Despite these facts, public opinion surveys indicate a persistent misconception among citizens regarding the extent of EU support compared to other external actors like China and Russia. Only recently, in mid-2022, did the EU emerge as the perceived primary contributor to Serbia’s development efforts.

Demostat asserts that the Serbian government has adopted a contradictory stance on European integration, publicly endorsing EU membership while simultaneously promoting anti-European sentiments and cozying up to Russia and China. This inconsistent approach has contributed to waning support for EU integration among citizens.

Moreover, pro-government media outlets often fail to acknowledge EU funding for projects or downplay its significance, while glorifying Chinese-funded initiatives. This biased narrative perpetuates misinformation and obscures the true extent of EU contributions to Serbia’s development.

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In light of these observations, Demostat calls for greater transparency and accountability regarding EU investments in Serbia. By shedding light on the tangible benefits of EU cooperation, policymakers can foster greater public awareness and support for Serbia’s European integration efforts.

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