Since 2000, the European Union has donated 230 million euros for agriculture and food safety in Serbia, and in 2017 alone, the value of Serbian agricultural exports to the EU reached 1.3 billion euros. Environmental protection and human health protection, food safety, animal welfare, keeping soil in good condition – are the main goals of this sector.
The Common Agricultural Policy is one of the most important sectors in the EU, both in terms of the number of regulations governing this area and the size of the agricultural budget in the overall budget of the European Union. EU agriculture accounts for almost 40% of the total EU budget. The main objective is to ensure a stable supply of the market for agricultural products at affordable prices, which in turn means adequate income for farmers. The agricultural sector consists of two parts:
- direct payments with market intervention,
- and rural development.
Direct payments imply that, while protecting the environment and human health, food security, respect for animal welfare, keeping the land in good condition, farmers are given incentives regardless of what type of production they are producing and thus have a stable income regardless of market volatility. Market interventions include the withdrawal of products from the market, support for the production of certain products, a quota system, support for farmers in the fruit and vegetable sector. Rural development contributes to strengthening the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry, as well as improving the quality of life of rural areas.
EU projects for farmers in Serbia encourage the use of funds from agriculture and rural development funds, improve product quality, and increase their competitiveness in the EU market with over 500 million consumers. It also strengthens the capacity of the Agency for Agrarian Payments, the body that will be the bridge between Serbian farmers and EU institutions.
When it comes to the Republic of Serbia, the agriculture sector is not focused only on harmonization of agricultural policy, that is Chapters 11 and 12 – Agriculture and rural development and Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy. EU assistance is reflected in tangible donations, with the Instrument for pre-accession assistance for rural development (IPARD) serving as the prime example of that assistance. IPARD is the leading programme in this area, with 175 million euros allocated for Serbia for the period 2014-2020, coupled with another 55 million of national funding. It is worth noting that beneficiaries will have these funds at their disposal until 2023.
Within IPARD, Serbia has decided to implement six following measures:
- Investments in physical assets of agricultural holdings (Measure 1)
- Investments in physical assets concerning processing and marketing of agricultural and fishery products (Measure 3)
- Eco-oriented and organic farming (Measure 4)
- Implementation of local development strategies — LEADER approach (Measure 5)
- Measure 7 - Diversification of agricultural holdings and business development: aims to increase the level of development of economic activities in rural areas, with the possibility of creating new jobs, which will directly increase the income of farms
- Diversification of agricultural holdings (Measure 9)
The European strategy Farm to Fork is particularly noteworthy: it aims to secure availability of healthy food and affordable food prices for all Europeans. Furthermore, the strategy aims to achieve multiple benefits: preserve biodiversity, fight climate change, develop organic food production.