The World Economic Forum 2014 rated Serbia’s local economy competitiveness - 94 out of 144 or two ranks less than the previous year. Similarly the World Bank Group report published early in 2015, placed Serbia as 91st out of 189 economies for its “Ease of Doing Business” - a 14 point drop from the previous year. The results clearly point to the decline in the country’s business standards. Sub-rankings of these results show that the situation in the underdeveloped areas of the country is more alarming and require focussed and strategic support.
In turn European PROGRES has developed a series of activities to address the competitiveness of the local economies.
The Programme will support local self-governments (LSG) to implement the Law on Planning and Construction through the provision of the tailor made technical assistance for each partner municipality.
The Programme also plans to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in employing innovations and obtaining standards and access to new markets. Participating SMEs and especially agricultural cooperatives are encouraged to join into clusters or cooperatives in order to allow for common market approach and internationalisation through adoption of the international quality management. The Programme’s women entrepreneurship activity strengthens workforce by offering funds for female led start-up business.
Additionally, in order to support better utilisation of the municipally owned land, facilities and development of communal services, European PROGRES will pioneer the facilitation of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the Southern Serbia.
The Programme also implements two folded approach to infrastructure improvement. Primarily it provides grants to the LSGs to prepare technical documentation which is a necessary step in making the infrastructure projects eligible to access funds allocated by the European Union and other donors. Secondly European PROGRES works with the Ministry of Finance’s Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programmes (CFCU) on realisation of grant schemes for implementation of local and regional infrastructure projects with the overall value of nine million Euros.