Montenegro and Serbia have been successfully cooperating for 15 years within the cross-border cooperation programme with the support of the European Union and this cooperation will continue in the future under funding provided by the 2021-2027 instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA III), is the message from the IPA Final Conference II of the cross-border cooperation Programme Serbia – Montenegro 2014-2020, which was held on 28 November 2023 in Podgorica.
During the conference, the results of the CBC projects implemented with IPA II funding were highlighted. These results sought to improve the quality of life of the citizens resident in 14 municipalities of Northern Montenegro and 3 districts of Western Serbia.
“During the financial cycle that covered the period from 2014 to 2020, 28 projects with a total value of over 7.7 million euros were contracted, of which the EU’s contribution was 6.4 million. Since the beginning of cross-border cooperation in 2008, more than 15 million euros have been allocated for projects implemented by institutions and organizations from the two countries,” said Maida Gorčević, Minister of European Affairs of Montenegro.
She pointed out that the cross-border cooperation Programme between Serbia and Montenegro contributes to the development of the Program area by encouraging cooperation, exchange of experiences and use of potential in order to make this region attractive for life and work.
“The success of this and other cross-border and interregional cooperation programmes in which the Republic of Serbia and Montenegro participate, as well as the use of European funds in general, is the best evidence of a common commitment to EU integration with a special focus on economic development and better standards of living”, Ms Gorčević pointed out.
The Minister for European Integration of the Republic of Serbia, Tanja Miščević, reminded that the cross-border area greatly benefited from modest funding, and the beneficiaries of the projects were diverse, from local self-governments, non-governmental organizations, new businesses, start-ups, sensitive groups.
She referred to the successful projects implemented through this cross-border cooperation Programme, in the area of waste management, improvement of tourism potential, development of crafts, procurement of equipment for rescuers, improvement of health care and a special focus on projects involving young people in the cross-border area. “By signing the new financial agreement and working on the promotion of new calls with 2 thematic priorities under the IPA III financial perspective, we will have 8.4 million euros at our disposal. Our task is to animate both new and old beneficiaries to use as many resources as possible. This is proof of serious and good cooperation between Montenegro and Serbia, which will only be improved through projects like these”, said Ms Miščević.
The EU ambassador in Montenegro, Oana Kristina Popa, stressed that the European Union is proud to have supported these projects, because they significantly improved the lives of people living in the areas covered by the Programme.
“The EU, Montenegro and Serbia recently signed a new Agreement, which provides a total of 8.4 million euros for the next few years. The new cross-border program continues to foster cooperation in the field of cultural heritage, health and social services and employment opportunities,” said Popa.
She emphasized that cross-border cooperation is the ideological backbone of a united Europe and a powerful instrument for building prosperity across the continent.
“European Union cross-border cooperation programs build stronger ties between neighboring countries and prove how powerful cooperation can be in solving common challenges. As such, they are a clear illustration of the EU’s commitment to a united, prosperous, and peaceful Europe”, Ms Popa concluded.
Source: IPA II CBC programme Serbia – Montenegro website