"EU invested 3bn, EIB 5bn in Serbia over 15 years"
The European Union has invested EUR 3 billion in Serbia over the past 15 years, as part of EU integration processes, Beta is reporting.Source: Beta
The European Investment Bank has invested EUR 5 billion.
EU Delegation to Serbia chief Sem Fabrizi said at an Investing in the European Future of the Western Balkans conference on Dec. 8 that EUR 200 million had been invested a year since the beginning of the negotiating process, or EUR 3 billion over 15 years.
Fabrizi pointed out that Serbia's exports to the EU had almost doubled from 2009 to 2016, from 3.2 billion to 8.8 billion, as one concrete and already visible result of Serbia's association with the EU.
He also said that European companies had invested EUR 15 billion in Serbia in the past 15 years, and that 200,000 Serbs worked for European companies in the country.
As the most important elements of the negotiating process between Serbia and the EU, he stressed economic reform and the rule of law, which are mutually connected.
According to him, Serbia has done a lot of work in conducting economic reforms, but added that they had to continue for the country to become competitive, which is a condition of becoming part of the integrated European market.
When it comes to the rule of law, Fabrizi said the area was complex and one of the hardest ones.
"Serbia is at the very beginning here," the head of the EU delegation said, adding that more political dedication was needed for reforms in that area to become a priority.
This entails, he went on, an efficient and independent judiciary, a strong hand against corruption and an environment where freedom of expression and free media can flourish.
The head of the regional Western Balkan office of the EIB, Dubravka Negre, said that the goal of that bank was to help the region's integration with the EU through projects and initiatives.
"We have invested EUR 5 billion in Serbia since 2001, when we became active on the market," she said.
The conference Investing in the European Future of the Western Balkans which was organized by the European Movement in Serbia and the International European Movement, is the third such conference this year, after Poland and Ireland, and the first to be held in a non-EU member-state.