Wednesday

28th Jun 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“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".

Turkey's accelerated drift from Europe

Turkey's path towards EU membership seems harder than ever in the past 54 years, after Erdogan, this week, threatened to "wave" goodbye to the bloc.

EU urges Turkey to investigate election fraud

The EU called for a transparent investigation into alleged irregularities during the referendum in Turkey, which gave sweeping powers to president Erdogan. It added that reinstating the death penalty would end the country's EU bid.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  3. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  4. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  6. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  7. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  8. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  9. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  10. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  11. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  12. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million