Friday

22nd Jan 2021

EU funding for Serbia well spent, says EU budget watchdog

  • Serbia started accession negotiations in January 2014 (Photo: Wolfgang Klotz/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)

The EU’s budget watchdog says the €1.2 billion of EU money spent to help Serbia’s future membership with the Union was relatively well managed.

In its report out Tuesday (13 January), the Luxembourg-based European Court of Auditors said Serbia’s pre-accession assistance (IPA) for 2007 to 2013 delivered on social and economic reforms despite the poor execution of some projects.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“Learning from its past pre-accession support, the commission successfully supported Serbia in addressing key areas such as good governance, the rule of law, and the fight against corruption,” said the Court in a statement.

At the same time, the Court noted some projects suffered from “weaknesses regarding their design, implementation and sustainability” and recommended the commission improve transparency and set up better quality control checks.

It noted, for instance, that an EU project on a judiciary system had run parallel - without any coordination - to another system funded by the United States.

The Court audited 15 IPA funded projects and 'desk' reviewed 10 others. The audits focused on project results while the reviews assessed governance and fight against corruption where projects did not have good governance as a primary objective. The probes took place from May 2013 until January 2014.

Serbia received around €170 million annually from the fund. The money went to areas like justice, transport, and social development.

Around a quarter of it supported governance projects, which include fighting corruption and improving public administration.

The European Commission, in its annual package of EU hopefuls published last October, highlighted corruption in Serbia as a persistent problem.

Despite the political impetus to fight graft by Serbian leadership, corruption remains prevalent, said the commission.

Serbia’s accession negotiations started in January 2014. It faces big political challenges that require it to normalise relations with Kosovo - a pre-condition for future membership.

Full recognition of Kosovo has not been tabled.

But Latvia’s foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics, speaking on behalf of the EU presidency, told Serbian media last week that Belgrade needs to continue high-level dialogue with Pristina.

“The dialogue at a high level after the forming of the government in Kosovo should be continued in the near future, in order to accelerate implementation of existing agreements," he said, reports the Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti.

The European commission, for its part, has downgraded its overall enlargement campaign.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said there would be no new EU countries during his five-year term. He also changed the name of the “enlargement” portfolio to “enlargement negotiations”.

EU enlargement heading into chilly period

The EU commission is not recommending any fresh steps on Western Balkan enlargement in the next 12 months, with one official saying the policy is in "de facto freeze".

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Spain to recognise Kosovo if it gets Serbia deal

Spain would be prepared to recognise Kosovo if it clinched a deal with Serbia, Madrid has said, in the first positive signal of its kind since EU-brokered talks resumed.

News in Brief

  1. Netherlands imposes curfew to halt new corona variant
  2. Green NGO fails to stop Europe's biggest gas burner
  3. Swedish minister reminds Europe of Russia's war
  4. Spain: Jesuit order apologises for decades of sexual abuse
  5. NGOs urge Borrell to address Egypt rights 'crisis'
  6. EU conflict-area education aid favours boys
  7. EU told to avoid hydrogen in building renovations
  8. Hungary gives initial ok for UK and Russian vaccines

Opinion

How enlargement is running out of steam

While the EU's enlargement progress reports have moved closer to capturing the problems of the region, they are still lagging behind in capturing the decline of democracy and rule of law in most of the region.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
  2. EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up
  3. Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors
  4. MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute
  5. EU warns UK to be 'very careful' in diplomatic status row
  6. A digital euro - could it happen?
  7. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  8. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us