Reflection of the Cathedral of Saint Savas in Belgrade, Serbia

Serbia Where East and West intersect

Over the past three decades, the people of Serbia have seen considerable political upheaval: the breakdown of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the wars that followed, Serbia's international isolation by the international community, and finally Montenegro's separation from Serbia in 2006 and the declaration of independence by the Province of Kosovo in 2008. Since 2000, the country has been undergoing a transition towards a market-oriented democracy.

Straigth to
The Freedom Bridge across the Danube near Novi Sad, Serbia

The Serbian government is facing complex political, social and economic challenges. They include shortcomings with regard to the rule of law, as yet inadequate implementation of the Paris Agreement, widespread poverty, which is particularly common among disadvantaged groups, and brain drain.

In January 2014, the EU and Serbia entered into accession negotiations. The precondition for this had been the conclusion of an agreement on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo in 2013. While many countries, including Germany, have recognised Kosovo's independence, Serbia continues to refuse to do so.

German development cooperation with Serbia

Niels Annen, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (right), and Gojko Stanivuković, State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Future Development Cooperation

Serbia plays a key role in ensuring political stability in South-Eastern Europe and is the central partner country for German development cooperation in the region.

Since it began in 2000, Germany's cooperation with Serbia has undergone a gradual change. Whereas, after the wars in the region, the main emphasis was initially on emergency aid measures, cooperation now pursues the overarching goal of assisting Serbia in preparing for EU integration. The core areas of cooperation are “Sustainable economic development, training and employment” and “Climate and energy, just transition”. Climate action plays an important role in both core areas, and cooperation in that field is being increased.

At the government negotiations in October 2021, the two sides also agreed to enter into a climate partnership. Of the 285 million euros committed at the negotiations, about 200 million has been earmarked for climate-related projects. The climate partnership is intended to assist the country in drafting and implementing its climate policy in line with the goals of the international climate agreements and with the commitments that are part of the EU accession process, especially under Cluster 4 (Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity) of the negotiations. After Serbia's most recent progress on climate, it was possible to open that Cluster in December 2021.

The activities focus on the key issues addressed by Serbian-German cooperation:

  • Help to decarbonise the energy sector through increased use of renewable energy (including “green hydrogen”) and better energy efficiency, and assist Serbia in pursuing a Just Transition and developing scenarios for phasing out coal
  • Foster the transformation towards a green economy, with a focus on green jobs and circular economy
  • Support climate-friendly and climate-resilient, resource-friendly urban development

Serbia made a commitment to become climate neutral by 2050 along with the EU.

Novi Sad City Hall

Novi Sad City Hall

Novi Sad City Hall

In order to foster good governance – a key prerequisite for EU accession –, Germany also uses its Technical Cooperation with Serbia to address administrative reform, public financial management, efforts to strengthen the rule of law, improvement of social services, and the inclusion of disadvantaged population groups.

Additional funding has been made available to provide support to Serbia as it addresses the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for particularly vulnerable groups (such as the elderly, poor people and single parents). The funding has been used to enable authorities in charge of social services, care facilities and other social service providers to continue to do their work amidst the pandemic and simultaneously respond to new needs and challenges that have arisen from the pandemic. In addition, information and education campaigns on how to deal with the pandemic have been carried out for particularly marginalised groups in informal settlements (especially members of the Roma minority), and access to water supply, hygiene items and vaccines, and also home schooling, has been improved. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Germany has made available a total of 4.25 million euros for this type of work.

Shopping street in Belgrade

Core area “Sustainable economic development, training and employment” Support for growth and employment Internal link

The focus of German-Serbian cooperation in this core area is on the following areas of intervention: private sector and financial sector development; technical and vocational education and training.

Danube hydropower plant Iron Gate on the border between Serbia and Romania

Core area “Climate and energy, just transition” Protecting the environment and human health through wastewater treatment plants and renewable energy Internal link

Germany is active in Serbia with a view to supporting the reduction of emissions and the decarbonisation of the energy sector, as well as environmentally sound water, wastewater and waste management.

Current situation

Political situation
A polling station at the regional elections in Serbia
Social situation
A woman stands at the fence of her property in a Roma settlement in Belgrade.
Displacement and migration
Hairdressing salon where young people can do an apprenticeship with the help of an initiative for unemployed young people
Economic situation
Belgrade by night

As at: 07/04/2022