Preparing Serbian local governments for the EU
The project “Sustainable and inclusive service delivery at local level” helps preparing Serbian local authorities to adjust to EU standards and regulations by improving conditions for services delivery by enabling local dialogue and improving public administration.
To meet EU standards and regulations, Serbian municipalities and the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM) are required to make special preparations. These preparations have been key in the longstanding project co-operation between SALAR and SCTM. The current, third, project phase builds further on the previous achievements. In this phase the project goes into practical and concrete results in the four project implementation areas, which are: waste management and circular economy, disaster risk reduction, gender mainstreaming and support to women’s entrepreneurship.
The vital role of local governments
Local governments have a central role in implementing the legislation and improving service delivery in line with EU-standards. While the theoretical knowledge of the EU requirements is often known among Serbian local governments, they are usually not as prepared practically. It is therefore a priority to raise the overall capacity of Serbian municipalities for the future EU accession.
The SCTM is the association in Serbia that represents the voice and interest of all local authorities in the country. The long co-operation between SALAR and SCTM has consisted of strengthening SCTM’s position. SCTM supports local governments and works as a communication channel, which municipalities can use to influence government decisions and national policies.
SALAR has plenty of relevant expertise and experience to share with SCTM. During Sweden’s EU- accession process, SALAR gained plenty of experience of how to tackle challenges and opportunities of the EU accession at the local level. SALAR can contribute with knowledge as well as a wide range of practical experiences from Swedish municipalities.
Practical support through Municipal Support Packages
In this project co-operation phase, SALAR and SCTM provide support to Serbian local governments through Municipal Support Packages (MSPs). The MSPs help strengthen management capacity in the targeted municipalities as well as their ability to deliver services that are adjusted to the will and needs of the people. The experiences from the MSPs will also be shared with a larger number of municipalities. In that way, SCTM can use the project results to increase capacities, awareness and understanding among their broader membership. SCTM also uses its strategic position and advocacy role in dialogue with the national government to voice the opinions of the local government needs. The communication between SCTM and the central government is relevant for local government experiences in all thematic areas of the project.
Gender and human rights as cross-cutting themes
The project works with gender and human rights as a cross-cutting theme. One measure is to help improve the dialogue between the local politicians and civil servants to better respond to the desire and needs of the citizens. This is done through gender responsive budgeting and with developing so-called Local Action Plans, increasing gender equality at local level. Another example is in the field of disaster risk reduction (DRR) where the project assists the national Sector of Emergency to make improvements in the national strategy to mitigate risks. This is done by paying specific attention to gender and human rights in dialogue with vulnerable groups and civil society in planning and preventing risks of disasters. This new way of working is reflected in a new publication called Guidelines for Disaster Risk Assessment & Protection and rescue plan.
This project phase will also be used as an opportunity to spread the results and experiences with the wider SCTM membership as well as building new experiences for SCTM to strengthen its position as a lobby organisation.