“The European Union (EU) is extending support to micro and small enterprises, which account for 90% of all enterprises and are the pillar of both the Serbian and EU economies,” said Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Ambassador Sem Fabrizi during the award of contracts to the first group of 38 of a total of 106 enterprises in southern Serbia, whose projects have been granted funding via the EU PRO Programme.
“By supporting your enterprises, we are demonstrating that good ideas will always enjoy support and that it is up to you to create the future, run your companies and employ people. Through the EU PRO Programme, the European Union is here to help you realise your ideas and turn them into business opportunities,” Fabrizi told the enterpreneurs, adding that the European Union would continue supporting this part of the country through its political, financial and social instruments.
The European Union has allocated over two million Euros to support micro and small enterprises in South Eastern and South Western Serbia given the pivotal role they play in achieving economic growth and creating jobs. The enterprises, which are mostly engaged in food production, furniture, textile and footwear manufacturing, and wood and metal processing, will receive new equipment that will help them increase their output and improve the quality of their products. In the first year alone, they will hire 255 people altogether, thus increasing their workforce by 25%.
Michela Telatin, the Head of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Serbia, which is implementing the EU PRO Programme, told the enterprises awarded grants that they needed to set an example in their communities and promote positive changes improving the lives of the citizens.
“UNOPS will create synergies through the implementation of the EU PRO Programme, by promoting enterpreneurship, the development of local and economic infrastructure and social cohesion and advancing the quality of life of the population. That is simultaneously UNOPS’ mandate – to support people in creating a better life and countries in achieving sustainable development,” said Michela Telatin.
The Call for Proposals procedure was conducted in cooperation with the Serbian Ministry of European Integration, the Ministry of Economy, the Development Agency of Serbia, the regional development agencies and chambers of commerce, with extensive support from the local self-governments engaged in the implementation of EU PRO Programme.
“EU incentives, such as this one, facilitate the local self-governments’ efforts to advance the development of their municipalities and I am pleased that support has been granted to as many as five Bujanovac and one Preševo enterprises,” said Bujanovac Mayor Šaip Kamberi.
Earlier that day, Head of the EU Delegation Ambassador Sem Fabrizi and Vranje Mayor Slobodan Milenković toured the building of the new surgical block in Vranje, the construction of which has been supported by the EU.
“This project is extremely important, given that Vranje is a regional health centre extending health services to over 250,000 people,” said Ambassador Fabrizi, adding that the surgical block has taken the Vranje health system to the 21st century.
“Thanks to the funding provided by the European Union, the Government of Serbia and the local self-government, the City of Vranje and the Pčinja District, as well as health insurance beneficiaries from the Kosovo Pomoravlje District, now have a good, modern surgical block, while the staff have good working conditions,” said Vranje Mayor Slobodan Milenković.
The Mayor expressed hope that the Serbian Government would support the reconstruction of the old part of the hospital in the upcoming period, which is envisaged in the project-technical documentation, the development of which was funded by the EU. The reconstruction will result in the creation of a functional complex comprising the in-patient ward and the 6,000m2 surgical block, which has eight operating halls, an intensive care ward and an emergency medicine ward.
“Good coordination among the central and local authorities, the private sector and civil society across the country is prerequisite for pursuing the social and economic development of the country together. And I hope that these concerted efforts will soon lead Serbia to EU membership,” Ambassador Fabrizi concluded.
During his visit to southern Serbia, EU Ambassador Sem Fabrizi also met in Bujanovac with the town’s Mayor Šaip Kamberi and Chairman of the National Council of the Albanian National Minority Ragmi Mustafa, as well as with the Chairman of the Serbian Government Coordination Body for the Municipalities of Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa Prof Zoran Stanković.