Assistance to competitiveness and compatibility with the EU of Serbian SMEs

Programme description

Title: Assistance to competitiveness and compatibility with the EU of Serbian SMEs (ACCESS) Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Republic of Serbia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Serbia
Overall term: 2011 to 2016

Context
Following many years with a largely state-controlled economy, Serbia lacks private enterprise, internationally competitive companies, a modern industrial structure and innovative thrust. The country has been a candidate for EU accession since 2012, and in 2014 negotiations will start on the individual chapters of the acquis communautaire, the body of laws, rules and policies with which all EU Member States must comply.

Serbia is hoping that its convergence with and subsequent integration into the EU will lead to an economic upturn, thereby alleviating above all the precarious employment situation. Economic momentum will come from the transformations and reforms carried out as part of the country’s association with the EU, and from export-oriented sectors such as IT and organic farming.

Objective
It has become easier for Serbian SMEs in selected sectors to be more competitive in domestic, regional and EU markets.

Approach
The programme is concentrating on three areas in order to achieve its objective:

  1. Providing policy and strategy consultancy to improve economic frameworks
  2. Improving the country’s quality infrastructure in close cooperation with the project run by Germany’s Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)
  3. Improving the services available to SMEs with regard to quality infrastructure and key technologies
Activities are focusing on information technology and sustainable agriculture, such as organic farming and non-genetically modified agricultural products. Sectors that show good potential include energy-efficiency technologies and services.

Results achieved so far

The following results have been achieved so far with the support of the programme:
  • Three national strategies and action plans for IT, organic farming and quality infrastructure have been developed, and the first steps have been taken towards implementing them.
  • Three new business start-up initiatives are being supported. 700 entrepreneurs have so far taken part, leading to the launch of 35 new start-ups following a capital injection of over EUR one million provided by international venture capital.
  • The EU has recognised the conformity assessment bodies in Serbia that certify Serbian manufacturers. In future, all Serbian certificates will be accepted in the EU. This became possible as a result of a multilateral agreement signed between the Accreditation Body of Serbia (ATS) and European Accreditation (EA).
  • Now that the Serbian Organic Control System (OCS) has been recognised by the EU, producers of organic agricultural products can export to the EU without requiring specific authorisation.
  • 94 per cent (May 2014) of all harmonised European standards have been adopted by the Institute for Standardization of Serbia and made available to Serbian (private-sector) businesses.
  • A business academy has been founded in Kragujevac in collaboration with the Koblenz Chamber of Crafts.
  • With partner organisations now better able to qualify for EU funding, there have been more than 30 applications, of which 14 have successfully led to funding of over EUR 260,000 being awarded.
Serbia. The programme is assisting Serbian SMEs to improve their competitiveness and compatibility with the EU in different areas, including key sectors such as organic farming and IT. © GIZ