Europe's 15 million Roma people often live in poverty and face discrimination and exclusion. During 2005-2015 the European countries make a common approach to healthcare, jobs, housing and education for Roma. Roma Education Fund, which receives support from Sida, is part of that effort.
Photo: Victor Brott
Our work in Serbia
Using the EU integration process as a tool Sida is contributing to poverty reduction, democratic development and greater respect for human rights in Serbia. The support focuses on strengthening public institutions and to contribute to a better environment.
Sida's support to Serbia began in the late 1990s with humanitarian aid after years of war in the Balkans. In the early 2000s long-term development cooperation was initiated.
Serbia has applied for EU membership and committed itself to substantial reforms in a number of areas. Sida supports these reforms to achieve better living conditions for the people. The support should contribute to increased respect for human rights, strengthened democratic institutions, reduced poverty among vulnerable groups and environmental sustainability.
Democracy, human rights and public administration
It is a great challenge for Serbia to build an open, efficient public administration that guarantees human rights and provides good service to its citizens, also at the local level.
Membership negotiations between the EU and Serbia began in 2014. All prospective EU member states must transpose the EU laws into their own legislation and a majority of the rules will be implemented at local and regional level. This is why Sida supports cooperation between the Serbian association of towns and municipalities SCTM and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions to prepare the Serbian municipalities for EU integration and strengthen their capacity. The project has a particular focus on gender equality, the environment and a business-friendly environment.
Relevant and credible statistics is one of the cornerstones of democratic development and it is used for both planning and decision-making. Sida supports a collaborative project between Statistics Sweden (SCB) and Serbia's statistical authority to build the Serbian capacity to produce and disseminate statistics, adapted to EU standards, and enable authorities to monitor for example poverty trends.
Sida also supports a comprehensive reform of the Serbian police for more efficient law enforcement. The Swedish Police and the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs are cooperating to create a forensic training facility at the Police Academy in Belgrade, introduce intelligence-led policing methods, and develop and implement a new development strategy.
Reform processes cannot be run by the state alone why civil society needs to increase its influence over the country's politics and society. About a quarter of Sida's development cooperation with Serbia is made up by support to local organizations, channelled through Swedish and international organizations. One example is Civil Rights Defenders that works to strengthen human rights activists and promote Roma and LGBT rights. Another example is the Olof Palme International Center that works to increase citizen participation in local politics, to increase transparency and to enable local organizations to demand accountability from decision makers.
Environment and Climate
Serbia also has major environmental challenges to overcome and there is a need for huge investments in waste management, water treatment and other environmental infrastructure, to improve the environment and to reach EU standards. But while there is available funding there are few projects to invest in. Sida works to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection to prioritize, plan and implement investments in environmental infrastructure.
The environmental legislation of the EU is complex. Sida supports cooperation between the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Environment to prepare Serbia's negotiating team for the forthcoming EU negotiations.
Sida also supports 28 environmental organizations at local and national level, working with advocacy and dialogue with the government sector. The support is channeled through the organization Regional Environmental Center.