The European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. Consequently, the EU actively supports protection of human rights in Serbia through different programmes at both national and regional levels. With regard to national programmes, there is a number of ongoing EU-funded projects implemented in cooperation with Serbian authorities and civil society organisations (CSOs) with one common objective: full protection of and respect for fundamental rights of every citizen, regardless of age, gender, abilities, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc. Since 2014, EU support for promotion of democracy and human rights in Serbia has amounted to more than EUR 53 million.
As a result, projects in Serbia seek to prevent all forms of discrimination, protect minorities, improve the status of Roma, safeguard the rights of LGBTI population, achieve media freedom, protect the rights of children, women, and people with disabilities, enable access to justice, reform the prison system, prevent torture, protect personal data, increase the visibility of human rights, and encourage activities of human rights defenders and civil society organisations.
In December 2019, by means of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), nine grants worth EUR 2 million were awarded to CSOs in Serbia. Their projects focus primarily on respect for and protection of minorities, gender equality, children’s rights, support for migrants, protection of human rights defenders, and fight against human trafficking (especially women and girls, victims of sexual exploitation). EIDHR is a European Union programme that aims to promote democracy and human rights worldwide through support to civil society initiatives. In the context of pre-accession process, the focus of the EIDHR is on the role of CSOs with an emphasis on areas linked to the Copenhagen political criteria. By doing so, EIDHR complements support brought under other instruments. For the period 2007-2013 the EIDHR annual allocation for Serbia was around EUR 1.2 million, whereas for the period 2014-2020 the annual allocation for Serbia stands at around EUR 1 million.
In December 2019, through Civil Society Facility (CSF), ten new grants were awarded to civil society organisations in Serbia with an overall value of EUR 5 million. CSF is one of the European Commission’s instruments that suppors the development of civil society and media in enlargement countries. Since it was set up in 2008, it has provided pre-accession assistance to civil society in the Western Balkans and Turkey through National and Multi-beneficiary initiatives. The global objective of the last call for proposals (CSF 2018 Programme) in Serbia was to increase the capacity of Serbian CSOs and grassroots organisations at the local level to address reform and EU integration processes, particularly in the areas of: the rule of law, cultural diversity, social cohesion, political and social integration, environmental protection, and socio-economic development.