Permanent Representation of Serbia to the Council of Europe
In 2021 the CEB marks its 65th anniversary as a multilateral development bank with an exclusively social mandate and no fewer than 42 members. What are the advantages of the CEB membership from your country’s point of view?
Serbia acceded to the CEB in 2004 and belongs to the group of the CEB’s target countries. Ongoing CEB investments in Serbia amount to almost €1 billion, which proves close collaboration between Serbia and the CEB.
For Serbia, strong cooperation with the CEB, with which projects in the field of education, health, social protection, environmental protection and energy efficiency are implemented, is extremely important. Membership in the CEB gives the opportunity to contribute to the Bank’s unique social mandate, that makes it a relevant institution for strengthening social cohesion and ensure a more inclusive and sustainable economy throughout Europe.
Could you give us some examples of the cooperation between the CEB and your country that you consider particularly significant?
As Serbia is one of the CEB’s target countries, there are a lot of relevant projects that have been realised in the cooperation with the Bank. I would like to single out “Tirsova 2 University Children’s Hospital” in Belgrade. This project is of the utmost importance because direct beneficiaries will be over 100 000 patients from Serbia and the region who visit the facility every year for diagnostic procedures and to receive their treatment, as well as 700 staff and close to 500 future doctors and nurses in training.
I would like to particularly underline the Regional Housing Programme (RHP), that was established to provide durable solutions to vulnerable refugees and displaced persons following the 1991-1995 conflicts on the territory of former Yugoslavia. The CEB is strongly supporting the four Partner Countries in implementing the RHP. At end-January 2021, the RHP had already provided housing to 5 285 most-vulnerable refugee families in Serbia.
There are many other projects which truly represent the fruitful cooperation, such as “University infrastructure” and “Student Housing” whose objectives are to improve university education access in Serbia, “Water supply and waste water treatment”, whose potential social impact is high as it will improve the water supply networks in around 60 municipalities in Serbia.
Looking into the future, how can the CEB best support your country to promote social cohesion and sustainable development that leaves no one behind?
The CEB is the only development Bank in Europe with a social mandate, a mandate that is growing in importance given the wide range of social issues that Europe will need to confront in the coming years. In my humble opinion, it is crucial that the CEB have in mind the consequences of climate change and the adaptation measures in areas such as housing, energy, mobility, health, education and employment. Furthermore, the CEB should intensify its focus on ensuring that projects enhance gender equality throughout its members, as well as on the long-term integration of vulnerable groups.
In the future, the Bank should continue to support Serbia in achieving the goals agreed with the EU in the energy sector, water supply and sanitation and in the waste and environmental sector and to continue to promote sustainable economic development. Activity in the Target Group Countries should remain a strategic focus for the CEB and lending activities in the Target Group Countries should represent a priority for the Bank.