Balkan states are desperate for the money guaranteed by joining the EU. The EU has promised to give membership to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro by 2025, but there will be no extra EU funds available for the countries in the meantime.
EU funding programme in Serbia, with reference to the 18m euros charged for medical equipment for a Belgrade hospital, is cynical. By contrast, Serbian farmers are shown who derive no benefit from EU funding and ply their trade with no more than a “tractor, spade, and bucket”.
With almost three billion Euro in grants provided over the past 15 years in all fields, ranging from rule of law, public administration reform, social development, environment and agriculture, the European Union is the biggest donor in Serbia. Since 2000, the EU has implemented projects regarding Serbia’s transport infrastructure, health care, air and water quality, solid waste treatment, justice and public administration reform to deliver better services to citizens. In recent years, support is increasingly oriented towards preparations for EU membership.
To support Serbian farmers, businesses and rural communities, EUR 175 million for IPARD (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance in Rural Development) has been allocated for 2014-2020. It is estimated that these grants may lead to a total investment in agriculture of approximately EUR 400 million. The first public call for IPARD funds was launched in December 2017, and supports investments in the physical assets and procurement of new machinery and equipment, the incentive rate being between 60% and 80%. The amount of incentives the Serbian farmer can generate in the production of fruits, vegetables and other crops can range from EUR 5,000 to EUR 700,000, while milk and meat producers can get between EUR 5,000 and EUR 1,000,000.