On March 16, Minister for European Integration in the Government of the Republic of Serbia Jadranka Joksimovic sent an official letter to the Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Oliver Varhel, requesting that the European Union enable the transfer of unspent funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), with a view to taking action on prevention and suppression of the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic in Serbia.
In a response received yesterday, 25 March, Commissioner Varheli informed Minister Joksimovic of the activities undertaken by the European Commission and the EU Delegation to Serbia in order to provide timely and comprehensive support to the efforts of the Government of Serbia in stopping the spread of coronaviruses.
In this regard, the letter states that Varhelj instructed his service to release, with the consent of the Serbian Government, approximately 94 million euros of ongoing projects, as well as projects from IPA funds that have not been realized so far.
This equates to € 15 million for emergency needs under current programs and contracts with UNDP and UNOPS. It also looked at the possibility of using an additional almost € 21 million from the European Integration Support Program.
In his letter, the Commissioner also indicated the possibility of additional support in agreement with the Government of Serbia by diverting the funds allocated for the implementation of projects, whose implementation has not yet started, to support the health system and overcome the socio-economic consequences of EUR 57.6 million.
The package of measures to support Serbia in the fight against coronaviruses includes financial assistance worth 93 million euros
Immediate measures: EUR 15 million for:
- transportation of emergency medical equipment and supplies that Serbia procures abroad;
- procurement of emergency medical equipment and supplies (such as respirators, masks, gloves, etc.) for medical staff and the general population;
Other urgent needs in consultation with the Government for Health and Social Welfare.
Short and medium term measures: € 78 million
- support for job creation in small and medium-sized enterprises
The package also includes:
- additional initiatives to be implemented with international financial institutions aimed at addressing the liquidity and financial problems of the private sector and using EU regional programs;
- measures to tackle the supply and distribution of the most important goods within the Western Balkans and with the EU;
- activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism;
- application of the Solidarity Fund to Serbia.
Measures within the package are already being implemented: the first cargo of emergency equipment and materials procured by Serbia, financed by the European Union, arrives today at Nikola Tesla Airport.