News archive - History of Using CARDS/IPA funds From the Serbian Point of View

The Ministry of Science and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Serbia is pleased with the response of Commissioner Rehn, having in mind that the efforts to include research in the priorities of the pre-accession funding have quite some history.

Ivan Videnovic from the Serbian Ministry of Science and Environmental Protection reports on the use of CARDS/IPA funds in the past and in the future.

The needs for the reinforcement of research capacities have been identified in the EU-Balkan Countries Action Plan on S&T, adopted at the Ministerial Conference in June 2003 in Thessaloniki, during the Greek EU Presidency. The same document proposed using CARDS funds (the 2002-2006 pre-acession financial instrument for the Western Balkan countries) for a renewal of research infrastructures. However, the priority of research has not been set in the CARDS Multiannual Indicative Plan. Following the “Thessaloniki spirit”, in June 2004 the Serbian Government decided to invest 9 million euro in R&D infrastructure and the development of technological parks. This was the first time that the significance of RTD as a fostering tool for the knowledge-based economy has been recognised by the highest level of authority in a Western Balkan country. A further strong boost to the whole initiative has been given by the German delegation in the CARDS Committee in December 2004, which was supported by several other member states. Shortly afterwards, on February 3, 2005, the next milestone was reached during the Conference on Western Balkan Countries in EU RTD-Framework Programmes, held in the European Parliament in Brussels with the participation and strong personal engagement of the Commisioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik. Unfortunately, the issue of the lack of the budget line for R&D in CARDS remained an obstacle, which showed to be difficult to remove. New encouragement for the whole endeavour has been given by the Austrian EU Presidency in the first half of 2006, which put strong emphasis on the participation of the Western Balkan countries in the EU RTD Framework Programme and particularly on the reinforcement of R&D infrastructures. This issue has been raised by the Austrian representatives and recognized in the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). Finally, the launch of the Steering Platform on Research for the Western Balkan Countries by Commissioner Potočnik in June 2006, as a follow-up of the 2003 Thessaloniki Action Plan, has marked the continuous interest of the European Commission to assist the WBCs to improve their research capacities and encourage their participation in the EU RTD Framework Programme. One should not forget the two FP6 calls (2005 and 2006) for the reinforcement of research capacities, which shall introduce more than 7 million euro into 30 Centres of Excellence awarded in the Western Balkan countries. Therefore, the letter of Commissioner Rehn to the WBC Ministers of Science and Technology has come as a result of the long-term efforts and synergies of both the Western Balkan countries and several Member States. We hope that this synergy shall remain part of our future joint actions aimed at further strengthening regional science and technology as a joint contribution to the competitive knowledge-based economy of the European Union.

Article published in eJournal fall 06.

Entry created by Ivan Videnovic on November 13, 2006
Modified on November 12, 2006