Milena Mihajlović, program director of the Centre for European Policies, believes that the European Union is an important donor for Serbia and that it would be a big blow if it withdrew those funds.
According to her, the key question now is how the European Commission will respond to the EP’s resolution (about election results in Serbia).
“If Serbia refuses the international investigation, which the EP is asking for, I think there will be a lot of political pressure from the Member States and the EP so that one of the restrictive measures towards Serbia is precisely to reduce the funds or even to withdraw them”, Mihajlović assessed.
As she explained, such a decision can be made by a qualified majority, so it is not necessary for all members to agree on it.
When asked what the consequences would be, if that happened, Mihajlović pointed out that all funds that have not been spent and that have not been determined or contracts have not been signed, could be withdrawn. She cited the example of Turkey, where the EU funds meant for NGOs were disbursed, but those meant for the state administration, government support and infrastructure projects were stopped.
Mihajlović also stated that the EU has invested in a very wide range of sectors in Serbia with “substantial funds invested in infrastructure projects” and added that “there are many vulnerable groups in this country that are counting on the support that has been disbursed so far”.
“This would be very bad not only for Serbia’s image, but also for socioeconomic development if the EU funds were withdrawn,” she stated.
According to Mihajlović, from 2003 until 2022, Serbia received more than 3.6 billion euros in EU grants.
“In terms of the money coming from China and Arab countries, it is mostly loans and that is the key difference. We receive grants and loans from the EU and we don’t have that kind of support from anyone else. The EU is the main partner we can count on for that kind of support,” Mihajlović concluded.
This post is also available in: Italiano