During the visit of Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn to Belgrade on 7 February 2018, the European Commission and Serbia signed new financial agreements to support the country’s border and migration management. These are concrete examples of EU’s commitment to Serbia’s progress as expressed in the Western Balkans Strategy.
A EUR 28 million grant of sectoral budget support on integrated border management is designed to strengthen Serbia’s border control capacities. Effective border control is essential to combat organised crime and illegal migration as well as to allow the smooth transit of people, goods, and services, in line with EU standards.
A second agreement concerns the EUR 16 million direct grant to the Ministry of labour, employment, veterans and social affairs which will be used to respond to the resilience needs of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Serbia, through support to the national authorities including enhancing shelter capacity and delivery of services. This grant brings the total amount of support given by the EU to Serbia to deal with the migration crisis since 2015 to almost EUR 100 million. Thanks to the EU Trust Fund the capacities of national authorities to manage migration needs and perform their duties in asylum and reception/transit centres will be upgraded. In this way the EU supports Serbia’s efforts to ensure adequate access to healthcare services and education for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
The EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis, established in December 2014, supports up to 1,5 million Syrian refugees and their host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Western Balkans. EUR 1.213 million have already been allocated to concrete assistance programmes for refugees and host communities in the region. These programmes support basic education and child protection, training and higher education, better access to healthcare, improved water and waste-water infrastructure, as well as support to resilience, economic opportunities and social inclusion. In addition, the Trust Fund now supports other important development sectors, including municipal services and infrastructure in most affected host communities, access to health care, and higher education.