Since 2000, European Union assistance to agriculture and rural development in Serbia has amounted to over 230 million euros. EU projects in this sector are focused on encouraging the use of funding for agriculture and rural development, aimed at improving consumer health and quality of products, ensuring incentives, and increasing the competitiveness of Serbian farmers in the European Union market of over 500 million consumers.
The funding offered through IPARD is used to increase the competitiveness of agricultural holdings and businesses, and food processing capacity, animal welfare and disease control, keeping soil in good condition, setting up national reference laboratories, ensuring overall food safety, harmonisation of agricultural policy, and preparing the public administration to successfully apply EU standards. On top of that, the funding is used to enhance the capacity of the Agency for Agrarian Payments, the body that will serve as the bridge between Serbian farmers and EU institutions.
Through IPARD, Serbian farmers have at their disposal 175 million euros in assistance that can be used for investments in physical assets of agricultural holdings, purchase of new equipment, or investments concerning processing and marketing of agricultural and fishery products. In the coming period, incentives will be available also for organic production, diversification of agricultural holdings, and business development for rural tourism facilities, as well as in the form of technical assistance for the implementation of the programme.
Among the most successful projects in this sector in Serbia are eradication of rabies in wild animals, thanks to which there wasn’t a single case of rabies in 2019 and 2020, as well as vaccination against swine fever, thanks to which not a single case has been registered in Serbia. Through the assistance it offered for setting up a network of veterinary and phytosanitary laboratories in Serbia, the EU has also supported efforts to improve food safety control as well as human and animal health protection, through purchases of lab equipment and equipment for quick response teams tasked with animal disease and zoonosis control.
The European Union has recently supported the construction of the European Centre of Excellence (CoE) for advanced technologies in sustainable agriculture with a donation of 14 million euros within Horizon 2020. Linking IT with agriculture, the Centre should develop leading-edge technologies of Europe-wide relevance, with the focus on agriculture. The EU investment is aimed at strengthening human resources of the Institute, hiring top experts, and knowledge sharing with leading European institutions. The creation of around 150 new jobs in science will help to keep the most promising young researchers in the country and attract researchers from abroad.
Today, the EU is the biggest trade partner of Serbia. Among other things, this can be ascribed to its comprehensive assistance for agriculture and rural development of Serbia. 52% of total Serbian exports are shipped to EU countries – in the past 10 years, Serbian exports to the EU have tripled, reaching the value of 1.9 billion in 2020, and is projected to grow further. Also in 2020, the value of Serbian exports to the EU was approximately half a billion euros higher compared to the value of EU imports to Serbia in the same category.
EU assistance is implemented in cooperation with the Government of Serbia. The European Union is the largest donor in Serbia, offering more assistance than all other international donors combined. European Union donations are used to advance the development of Serbia.