Environment

About Sector


Serbia applied for EU membership in December 2009 and was granted EU candidate status in March 2012. The EU-Serbia accession negotiations began in January 2014. So far, 22 out of 35 negotiation chapters have been opened. Chapter 27 – Environment and Climate was opened in December 2021.

The EU is helping Serbia during this process to be prepared for accession date in several chapters of the EU acquis, in particular for Chapter 27 – Environment and Climate, which requires strong institutions, involves complex legal obligations, requires skilled staff, financing mechanisms in place, monitoring, etc.


The EU supports Serbia to achieve its own goals with regard to environmental protection and climate action to raise them gradually to EU-level standards, while improving awareness of citizens, private sector and media.

The EU works in a Team Europe spirit with EU member States present in Serbia, with international organisations,  with civil society organizations, and with private companies, pushing innovation.

The EU has so far invested over 582 million EUR in protecting Serbian environment for direct interest of Serbian citizens, with Serbia investing around 310 million EUR, for a total of 890 million EUR. More support is made available through the Western Balkans Investment Framework: 53 million EUR in grants generating around 50 million EUR of loans.

Serbia’s commitment to adhering to EU environment and climate goals is essential for the country’s integration path and will help Serbia to make a more efficient use of resources.

Moving to clean, circular economy and taking actions to stop climate change, while recovering biodiversity loss and reducing pollution, will support people to access clean air, clean water, improve the economy and create new jobs.

The most important results of EU support to Serbia include building a network of air quality measuring stations, building wastewater treatment plants in Subotica, Šabac, Leskovac, Kula, Vrbas, Raška, Niš, Kraljevo, Brus and Blace. It also includes the restoration of water supply systems in Požarevac, Inđija, and Petrovac na Mlavi. In Veliko Gradište, where the water supply system was built from the ground up. The EU financed an ash disposal system and filtration system installations at the Nikola Tesla Thermal Power Plant (TENT). Also, the equipment for the monitoring of emission of harmful substances was installed at TENT A and B and at Kolubara Thermal Power Plant A. Regional landfills were built in Pirot, Užice, Sremska Mitrovica, Šabac, and Subotica. The medical waste management system has also been developed. The very first regional sanitary landfill in Duboko opened thanks to EU assistance now serves nine municipalities in Western Serbia, receiving 80,000 tonnes of waste annually. The EU also funded a flood defence system in Šabac with 10 million EUR. In Subotica, the EU funded the construction of a modern Regional Waste Management Centre with 20.3 million EUR.

With the ODVAJAMO project Serbia, EU and Sweden have thoroughly prepared the introduction of recycling in 17 municipalities. It has been done through a participatory approach: the ownership of the project lies with the local authorities and depends on the participation of citizens. The project is providing training, communication, trucks, and bins, but the real work will be done by municipality and citizens! Concrete results: in the month of April 2023, after only 6 months of implementation more than 650 tons of waste were collected for recycling. No special fees were introduced, but a functioning system and engaged municipalities and citizens.

The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans is the growth strategy for the region aiming to tackle the challenges of climate change and green transition and assist the Western Balkan (WB) countries to align environmental regulations with the European acquis. The Green Agenda for the WB is based on the European Green Deal and the Economic and Investment Plan for the WB. The “EU for Green Agenda in Serbia” initiative was launched in 2021 by the EU Delegation and Ministry of Environmental Protection of Serbia. Its objective is to contribute to the efficient, inclusive and sustainable implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans and its Action Plan, by building broad engagement and societal participation. This will be achieved through (1) policy support and capacity building, (2) piloting actions to support green transition and (3) scaling up of successful investments. “EU for Green Agenda in Serbia” platform is implemented by UNDP, in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden and the European Investment Bank (EIB) with additional funding from the Governments of Sweden, Switzerland and Serbia. More partners have expressed their desire to join the platform. This is EU cooperation maximizing support to benefit of all citizens.

All of this has helped to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Serbian citizens.

The emission of particulate matter into the air above Obrenovac and its surroundings has been reduced by as many as six times. Existing ash transport and disposal facilities at TENT were also modernised, reducing the use of coal. The EU also funded the purchase and installation of 28 measuring stations and the procurement of measuring instruments for automatic monitoring of air quality. By setting aside 2 million EUR for the procurement of lab equipment, instruments, and high-tech devices for water quality analysis, the EU helped to promote the work of the National Laboratory for Water, Air and Soil Analysis.

The EU is also working to raise environmental awareness and promote action in the society as a whole. Nation-wide campaign “Look around—Let’s Move”; Climate Day at Ada Lake; tree planting campaign spearheaded with EXIT Foundation; support for “Climate Caravan” and GreenFest festival; participation in several public discussions and debates; this is a fraction of EU’s efforts to raise awareness among citizens so that they, too, can become agents of change at both personal and collective level. The EU shows that even small things like carrying a bag to the store instead of buying another one made of plastic or using public transport and bicycles instead of cars—coupled with in-depth reform—can indeed make a huge difference.

Serbia’s biodiversity and habitats are unique in Europe and are home to a large number of endangered species. The EU supports the protection of biodiversity through its Natura 2000 support. In Srpski Krstur near Subotica dwells the last pair of eastern imperial eagles, the bird depicted on the coat of arms of the Republic of Serbia. The population of this remarkable species is now three times greater and is on the path to recovery, thanks in part to EU support for the nature sector which has so far reached over 4 million EUR.

In February 2020, when air pollution in Serbia stood above permitted limits for days, the EU supported Serbia to take action and tackle the issue in an effort to prove how the process of EU integration can be helpful by offering expertise, examples of good practice, and investment.

In areas affected during the floods in 2014, the European Union invested more than EUR 160 million in grants, building houses and repairing destroyed infrastructure.

Together, the EU and Serbia raise awareness about environmental protection and encourage citizens to take action. The EU supports Serbia to achieve common goals: pollution reduction, clean energy, biodiversity recovery, smart mobility solutions, energy efficiency, transition to clean energy, circular economy, reduction of the use of natural resources, recycling, introduction of innovative green technologies, protection of endangered plant and animal species, etc.

The EU helps Serbia create policies, initiates legislation reform, and builds capacity with over 72 million EUR allocated so far and more to come. The Government of the Republic of Serbia, together with the European Union, is working to harmonise legislation and create the framework for sustainable development and efficient use of natural resources, reduction of carbon dioxide, eradication of harmful and wasteful behaviour, and protection of the environment for current and future generations. With EU’s support, Serbia is working to improve the quality of life of its citizens, ensuring that laws and policies strive for clean air, water, and soil.

The EU is the smart engine of environmental protection worldwide. Within the European Green Deal, which aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, a roadmap with actions is set out in the fields of climate, clean energy, circular economy, construction, mobility, agriculture, sustainable food chains, biodiversity and de-pollution. The engagement of Serbia in adhering to these goals is essential for Serbia’s integration path and will help to strengthen efficient use of resources. Moving to clean, circular economy and taking actions to stop climate change, while recovering biodiversity loss and reducing pollution, will support the economy and create new jobs.

In the last 12 years, Serbia received over 8 billion EUR in financial assistance from the EU’s budget only, including 3.3 billion EUR in non-refundable grants, making the EU by far the biggest donor in Serbia.

 


List of key local partners/organisations

  • Ministry of European Integration
  • Ministry of finance
  • Ministry for Environmental Protection
  • Ministry of Mining and Energy
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management
  • Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure
  • Public Investment Management Office
  • Republic Geodetic Authority

Flagship Projects

EU for Greeen Agenda in Serbia

The European Union is the world leader in environmental protection. The EU supports Serbia on its path to a healthier environment. With over 582 million EUR in non-refundable grants invested in environmental protection and climate action in Serbia, the EU is the largest donor in this area in the country.

 

With EU's financial support, Serbia is working to develop and implement plans for the strategic protection of environment—a sustainable system of environmental protection that creates healthier surroundings and raises the quality of life.

Last updated: July 18, 2024, 11:52