Program Description

With support of Sweden and in cooperation with Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities - National Association of Local Authorities in Serbia launched the program aiming at strengthening democracy, equitable and sustainable development in relation to local governance and closer ties between Serbia and EU. Our intention is that by the end of Program’s implementation local authorities in Serbia are prepared enough to meet the requirements facing on the road to the European Union.

Sweden approved financing for this program of support to local authorities in Serbia and SCTM on December 13th 2011, when the agreement with SCTM was signed. The Program activities will be implemented during a period of 36 months, with a foreseen completion date of December 14th 2014.

The Program is based upon bilateral cooperation between two sister organizations of local governments, SALAR and SCTM. Each association has a special role within the Program: while the SCTM is the main implementing partner, SALAR will primarily act as a resource base for providing international expertise i.e. SALAR will be involved mainly in the transfer of knowledge and the provision of technical assistance to support SCTM and Serbian local authorities.

In order to effectively support municipalities on this road to the EU, this comprehensive program is divided into four thematic areas/components. There will also be a fifth component related to SCTM's capacity strengthening. The Program components are as follows:

  • U integration of Serbia and its implications on the local level
  • Environmental protection
  • Gender equality at local level
  • Improving business environment at local level
  • Further strengthening of SCTM's capacity

EU integration of Serbia and its implications on the local level

The EU approximation process has implications on the local level in Serbia that should not be underestimated. This process calls for adequate preparations by the SCTM and its members i.e. cities and municipalities: on the road to full membership of Serbia in the European Union. SCTM and its members need to position themselves strategically, both in domestic and international/EU negotiations, to strengthen their capacities for adequate participation in the EU integration process and to make EU affairs more visible to the citizens. For that reason, a special emphasis will be placed on strengthening of local government capacities in order to address the requirements and benefits in relation to Serbia’s approximation to the EU through:

- strengthening knowledge of the relevant SCTM bodies on EU affairs in order to prepare them for possible participation in the screening and negotiation process;

- developing a network of municipal legal experts that will enhance the position of local governments in the process of potential screening of local regulations, help municipalities in transposition of EU standards at a local level and to monitor the process of harmonization;

- developing a network of local administration staff in charge of EU affairs, etc.


Environmental protection

It is estimated that in towns and municipalities in Serbia the most financially demanding part of the process of harmonization with EU standards comes in the field of environmental protection. For that reason our intention is to touch all the identified problems through three groups of activities:

- The first group of activities is related to the analysis of law enforcement in the field of environmental protection at the local level, as well as to formulation of recommendations and training to improve the situation in this regard.

- Another set of activities will be conducted in thematic clusters within which the representatives of the Swedish municipalities will transfer to Serbian colleagues their experience in various fields, such as waste management, energy management, air protection and noise protection.

- The third group of activities will focus on topics related to raising citizens' awareness and cooperation of local entities, and citizens' participation in planning and decision-making in the field of environmental protection.


Gender equality at local level

In order to contribute to the promotion of gender equality at a local level and support local governments in this regard, our intention within this Program component is to strengthen the capacity of technical services of SCTM for creating and implementing measures to promote gender equality, enhance the capacities of cities and municipalities in Serbia and local bodies for gender equality, and to promote a concept of gender equality in public and raise awareness in regard to this issue. In addition to the analysis of the situation at the local level which will be prepared, our plan for next three years is to create and implement different training courses, launch initiatives and continue to promote the European Charter on Gender Equality at Local Level.


Improving business environment at local level

Improving business environment at a local level is essential for stimulating local development, and thus promoting the general business climate in Serbia. Beside anachronistic legal framework, the biggest obstacle on this road is a lack of regular dialogue between the public and private sectors, and within public sector itself. In this regard, our aim is to improve dialogue and interaction between these actors through this program component, to improve the capacity of local self-governments and the SCTM, and to raise awareness in local self-governments about the importance of improving the local regulatory framework, all for purpose to create a favourable business climate at the local level.


Strengthening of SCTM's capacity

The Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities has a key role as a competent, modern, recognized and reliable association representing local self-governments in Serbia. Our future activities will be focused on enhancing the ability of SCTM to generate initiatives, ownership and buy-in of development activities at local level, strengthening institutional and organizational capacity of SCTM and enable financial sustainability of SCTM.