Serbia is a priority country of Switzerland’s transition cooperation with Eastern Europe. The EU accession is a priority on Serbia’s agenda, however capacities are still lacking for implementing the necessary reforms in this process. Under Switzerland’s cooperation with Serbia, SECO improves the macroeconomic environment, the competitive business environment and the supply of renewable energies as well as energy efficiency.
In recent years, Serbia has made significant progress in terms of political reforms – a trend confirmed by the opening of EU accession talks in 2014. In addition, Serbia implemented strong fiscal consolidation measures in order to reduce its government debt and the acroeconomic situation improved. Per capita income has grown by an average of 3% p.a. since the turn of the millennium.
Further need for reforms
However, the challenges to further privatize large state owned enterprises and reduce the number of employees in the public sector still remain. Serbian businesses are in a weak competitive position and unemployment rates – especially among young people - remain high. In addition, Serbia ranks low in terms of energy efficiency among European countries and makes too little use of renewable energy sources.
What are SECO’s objectives?
Swiss support in Serbia covers the following domains of intervention: governance, economic development and employment, and sustainable energy and resilient cities. Furthermore, Switzerland has a migration partnership with Serbia. SECO’s focus is on:
Investment climate and job creation
SECO supports measures to improve the investment climate in Serbia. This strengthens the competitive position of Serbian SMEs and ultimately creates more jobs.
Public Financial Management
SECO supports Serbia’s efforts to make the management of public funds more efficient. This includes improving tax administration and making accounting more transparent. SECO also works with municipalities, focusing on their control procedures.
Energy efficiency and strong cities
SECO’s activities in the municipalities aim at reducing energy consumption. Another goal is replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. With SECO’s support, cities can better manage and plan their public infrastructure.
SECO and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) jointly define and implement the Swiss Cooperation Strategy in Serbia.
From 2018 to 2021, a total of some CHF 105 million is earmarked for Swiss transition cooperation with Serbia, of which around CHF 38 million is from SECO.