Modernization of local self-governments is crucial for European integration, efficient functioning of public services and most importantly – for the well-being of citizens and the economy. It is now easier to get personal documents, the procedures are simplified and digitized. Continuing the activities in public administration reform required continuous cooperation of the central and local levels of government, as well as the support of the EU.

On the occasion of awarding expert support packages to 30 local self-governments within the EU Exchange 6 Program, Martin Klaucke, Head of Operation II at the Delegation of the EU, emphasized the importance of the project for strengthening local self-government capacities, and in general the importance of local administration factors related to the functioning of the state:

“You have an extremely important role in the entire political process. You are the first level of contact with citizens and their democratic representatives. It is up to you to express the wishes of the citizens, but you are also the first level service providers for the citizens in this country. I am very pleased with the beginning of this project, which is mainly focused on planning at the level of local public policies, capital investments and monitoring the spending of funds. As you can see behind me – here we have the “Exchange 6” Program, which means that programs one to five were previously implemented. We have been cooperating with the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities for almost 20 years on very important topics, on which we have spent around EUR 35 million of EU grants”, said Klaucke and added:

“The lessons learned from this project will serve as a basis for creating new policies. That is why we continue to support the cooperation between all stakeholders in the project,” concluded Klaucke.

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović stated that Serbia is actively working on Cluster 5 and that Serbia is ready to open Cluster 3 as well.

“The EU Exchange 6 Program is technical assistance for the preparation of development plans, medium-term plans and for the improvement of planning and budgeting of capital projects of local self-governments. The assistance will enable the fight against corruption and it is in line with the public administration reform strategy”, said Joksimović

The Minister said to the representatives of local self-governments that they will always get more funds if they regionalize their projects and if the projects are not important only for their city or municipality.

Nikola Tarbuk, Secretary General of the SCTM said that the long-term support through 6 “Exchange” Programs testifies to the importance that the EU and national partners attach to the local self-government reforms in Serbia.

“This 18-year old program is opening a new chapter today. I am sure that many more great results are coming in the future. There is practically no municipality or city that did not receive some form of support through this program in various modalities – grants, support packages, professional training, counselling, etc. We can say that the Exchange Program has reached every local community and impacted its development in the areas of economic, social development environmental protection, agriculture or through systematic work on issued of local self-government planning and budgeting”, said Tarbuk.

As part of the EU Exchange 6 Program, local self-governments in Boljevac, Vrnjačka Banja, Krupanj, Kraljevo, Veliko Gradište, Požarevac, Kruševac, Smederevska Palanka, Šabac, Surdulica, Gadžino Han and Čačak received a support package for elaboration of LSG Development Plans.

Support packages for elaboration of LSG Mid-term Plans were received by the local self-government units in Bela Palanka, Ražanj, Novi Pazar, Merošina, Niš, Raška, Sombor, Kanjiža, Bačka Topola and Aleksinac.

Support packages for improving the capital projects’ planning and budgeting in LSG were received by the local self-government units in Pirot, Vranje, Požarevac, Kragujevac, Petrovac na Mlavi, Sremska Mitrovica, Prijepolje, Leskovac and Aranđelovac.

The EU Exchange 6 Program is the European Union’s support to local self-government units (LSG) in Serbia for key reform processes on Serbia’s EU accession path. The Program has been implemented almost continuously since 2004, and the sixth phase if financed from the IPA 2019 funds based on the donation agreement concluded between the EU Delegation and the Standing Conference of Town and Municipalities (SCTM) as the national association of all local self-governments and an implementation partner in all phases of the Program.

The European Union’s support for the public administration reform in Serbia is worth over EUR 200 million, from 2000 to this day. The funds intended for public administration are used for the professionalization of administration, the development of electronic services, the management of public finance and the improvement of the work of local self-governments and independent institutions.

Public administration reform is one of the most important elements of Serbia’s EU accession process, and in 2014 it was also placed at the forefront of the negotiations. A modern and professional public administration is a key element for every EU member state in order to effectively implement laws and manage EU funds transparently.

Watch the video “Public administration reform with the support of the European Union – path to a competent civil servant”