Serbia Moving closer to European Union membership
Over the past 30 years, the people of Serbia have seen considerable political upheaval: the breakdown of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav 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 in the Western Balkans has been undergoing a transition from a socialist system to a market-oriented democracy.
The Serbian government is facing complex political, social and economic challenges. They include shortcomings with regard to the rule of law, a high level of unemployment and underemployment, widespread poverty, which is even more severe among disadvantaged groups, and brain drain.
Accession to the European Union constitutes the greatest opportunity for national development, and is the strategic goal of the Serbian government. In January 2014, the European Union 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 – among them 23 of the 27 members of the EU, including Germany – have recognised Kosovo's independence, Serbia does not.
German development cooperation with Serbia
Serbia plays an important part in ensuring political stability in the Balkans and is the central partner country for German development cooperation in South-Eastern Europe.
At the government negotiations in September 2017, Germany committed a total of 103.5 million euros to Serbia for 2017 and 2018.
The overarching objective of the cooperation programme is to support Serbia on its journey towards EU membership. Germany's activities focus on the German-Serbian initiative for sustainable growth and employment that was launched in 2016, which forms the umbrella for the two countries' development cooperation.
The programme of cooperation focuses on the following three priority areas:
- Sustainable economic development
- Democracy, civil society and public administration
- Environmental policy, protection and sustainable use of natural resources
Since spring 2017, the BMZ's 'Returning to New Opportunities' returnee programme has been helping migrants to make a fresh start after their return from Germany. They are able to take part in training programmes and receive assistance in finding a job. In addition, young people in Serbia who are thinking about leaving the country receive advice on how to establish a livelihood for themselves in their own country.