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IP/01/172

Brussels, 7 February 2001

Patten to visit Belgrade as part of EU Troika on 8 February

Commissioner Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations, will visit Belgrade on 8 February as part of the EU Ministerial Troika, led by Ms Anna Lindh, Swedish Foreign Minister and comprising also Javier Solana, High Representative for CFSP, and Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ms Annemie Neyts. The Troika will meet FRY President Kostunica and Foreign Minister Svilanovic, as well as Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

Commissioner Patten last visited the FRY on 23 October, weeks after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. At that time he promised the rapid delivery of an emergency assistance package the people of Serbia through the winter and to stabilise the situation facing the new democratic leadership. Since then nearly 3000 trucks of heating fuel have been delivered to Serbia, covering over 1000 schools, municipal heating systems, and power plants. Some €45 million is being spent on electricity imports , covering some 70% of Serbia's electricity import needs over the winter, alleviating a very difficult energy situation. EU funded medicines are now stocked in 160 pharmacies across Serbia. Further support is being given under the EU's 'Schools for Democracy' programme providing basic infrastucture improvements in schools and under its municipal programme 'Towns for Democracy'.

Commissioner Patten said:

"I am pleased that the EU has delivered on its promise to help the FRY through the winter. Now the really hard work has to begin, to help the FRY along the road to Europe. That means implementing thorough-going reform, building democracy and the rule of law, reforming the economy, helping the FRY to stand again on its own two feet. It is going to mean some difficult, painful decisions. It is going to require resolve from the new leadership in Belgrade. They have made great strides in just 12 weeks. As long as they stick to reform, as long as they seek to do the right thing, the EU will continue to stand by them."

The European Commission plans an assistance programme for the FRY for 2001 of some €240 m. it will cover help inter alia in the energy sector, agriculture, legal and economic reform, and institution building.

BACKGROUND

EC assistance - FRY/Serbia

EC assistance was given since 1991:

  • Humanitarian

  • Democratisation / human rights / independent media

  • Assistance to opposition municipalities - EfD, SfDS …

Type of assistance

Serbia

€ m

Humanitarian (ECHO)
91-98255 (for the whole FRY)
9981 (58 disbursed)
0050 (73 disbursed)
Reconstruction (OBNOVA)
99 -00 Energy for Democracy

00 Schools for a Democratic Serbia

00 Emergency Assistance Programme

8.8

3.8

180

Food Security
9910.5
Democracy/Human rights / Media
94-99 Democratisation programme

(including media)

11.6353 (for the whole FRY)
98-99 Media programme (OBNOVA)6.853
TOTAL340.953 Serbia alone
plus part of 266.64 applying to whole FRY

€200m EC assistance for FRY / Serbia winter 2000:

€ 182 m Emergency Assistance Package (EAP)

  • Energy: Oil / electricity imports, spare parts for electricity grid.

  • Food supplies: to supply food commodities in order to limit the effect of price increases on the most vulnerable population and to stimulate the local agricultural and the agro-processing industry and distribution.

  • Health sector: immediate supplies of medicines, and medical care products

  • Media / Democratisation: continuing support already provided to this sector, which will (after the Serbian elections), become more structural.

  • Technical assistance: at central level, to key federal institutions, including President Kostunica's office

  • Municipalities: Continuing to use our successful network of municipalities (now expanded to all Serbian municipalities) as a channel for visible EC assistance, of immediate impact on local level:

    • Energy for Democracy (EfD III) - fuel to municipalities, like winter 1999-2000

    • Schools for a democratic Serbia (SfD) - ongoing support for small-scale projects e.g. repairs, supplies … immediately expanded to all municipalities.

    • Towns for Democracy (TfD) - support for small-scale projects in other areas within municipalities' competences e.g. small infrastructure …

€ 18m in EC humanitarian assistance: continuing (usual) support to the refugees from BiH and Croatia (c.500 000 persons); internally displaced persons from Kosovo (c.200 000) plus many more dependent on assistance (old people's homes, orphanages, hospitals …)

State of Implementation of EAP

Energy ( € 85 million )

Fuel - [€30 million]

Fuel (diesel and heavy oil 'mazout') is being provided for:

  • municipal heating systems (60 municipalities covering 80% of the population),

  • 1000 schools and hospitals and,

  • power plants and coal mines.

By 24th January, 2,830 trucks, carrying 77,334 tonnes of fuel had arrived in Serbia 75% of the programme. The programme is being implemented without major problems despite the formidable logistical challenges. The programme is having a major beneficial effect on the Serbian population. Deliveries are being closely monitored to prevent theft and misuse through a major operation involving over 100 people around Serbia. A second consignment of fuel for heating plants is planned with funds remaining from the €182 EAP to enable this programme to continue through the worst of the winter (up until the end of March).

Electricity imports - €45 million

All 45 million is engaged in contracts to provide a substantial proportion (over 70%) of Serbia's electricity import needs between Mid-November and the end of March. This help has stabilised the electricity situation so far this winter.

A major publicity campaign though TV and newspapers will be launched in February to highlight the EU's contribution and to promote energy saving.

Spare parts coal mines - €7 million

Six millions worth of contracts have been signed so far to provide essential spares to secure production in the mines. Delivery will begin within one month.

Medicines ( € 20 million )

The European Union is supplying essential medicines and medical supplies to public pharmacies (160) and health centres (over 175) around Serbia. Deliveries of €12 million-worth of locally procured drugs began in December. These have now reached all 160 pharmacies. A further €6 million worth of medicines and hospital supplies are being imported. These supplies will be delivered to hospitals during March. The programme has provided essential drugs to the Serbian population that have not been available for the last 2 years. The programme has also given a much-needed boost to Serbia's pharmaceutical industry. Some lines of production (e.g. of insulin) have restarted as a direct result of the programme.

The programme was well publicised among beneficiaries and the public at large through the display of posters and distribution of leaflets in pharmacies. TV commercials have been prepared and broadcasting will start in February to inform the public of the programme.

Food Commodities ( € 27 million )

A contract worth €24.5 million has been signed to provide 15,000 tons each of sugar and vegetable oil at affordable prices to consumers in Serbia. Funds generated from the sale of these goods will be used for agriculture projects. A large team of inspectors (around 40) will closely monitor the implementation of the programme.

Problems have been encountered in getting the necessary clearance for the importation of these goods due to Yugoslavia's complex food safety regulations. The first products (sugar) are due to go on sale on the 2nd February.

Towns and Schools for a Democratic Serbia ( €25 million )

Preparations are underway for the extension of last year's Schools for Democracy programme to all 160 municipalities. The programme will also support municipal projects (e.g. repair of water systems and rubbish collection). A detailed needs assessment is underway. The scale (160 municipalities) and scope (supplies and works contracts) of the new programme has required detailed planning. All contracts should be signed by the end of June.

Media ( €1 million )

The Swedish Helsinki Committee is already supporting independent media outlets with a €500.000 grant. €125 000 also for independent coverage of 23 December elections. This programme follows on from last year's EU support for the independent media.

2001 EC assistance

  • CARDS budget earmarked is of € 240 m. Initial programming mission mid-January identified priorities as: energy, agriculture, economic development, health (pharmaceutical industry), centre for economic and policy advice, TEMPUS, customs

  • European Reconstruction Agency - open now in both Belgrade and Podgorica - currently performing technical assessment mission which will identify precise needs and check delivery mechanisms.

  • Ongoing EC/WB assessment to prepare Economic Recovery and Transition Program. This document will be the core document for the Donors' Conference which will take place once Government economic programme (incorporating that document) is in place and the issue of arrears and membership of the WB and other IFIs has been settled i.e. mid-2001.

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