The European Affairs Fund of Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is a leading institution operating in Vojvodina that participates in monitoring, analysing and implementing European integration processes, promoting European values and ideas, as well as attracting and utilising available EU funds and programmes via EU projects
We’ve opened the Fund up to local and international partners, shown the potentials of our cities and municipalities, reached agreement on strategic priorities, with a desire to offer a framework for the implementation of projects of importance to the local and regional development of AP Vojvodina – says the Fund’s director, Aleksandar Simurdić.
The Fund that you head may have existed for just over a decade, yet it enjoys huge repute and has achieved impressive results. What makes you feel particularly proud?
We commemorated the tenth anniversary of the Fund’s establishment last year, which – in terms of dates – coincided with the just-completed EU budget period until 2020.
At the beginning of this year, for the needs of the Provincial Government, we prepared an analysis of absorbed European funds and programmes, which indicated to us the absorption of funds by territory, areas of intervention and the institutions that participated in the implementation of projects. I’m happy to note that representatives of local administrations on the territory of Vojvodina have recognised the importance and benefit of project financing for the achievement of the public priorities.
You are very active in institutions based in Brussels, while you are also visited by delegations from the EU, ambassadors and other high officials. Do you see that as one of the preconditions for promoting Vojvodina as a European region?
The Fund’s composition includes the Vojvodina European Office in Brussel, operating within the framework of the Mission of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union, through which the provincial administration establishes new contacts and enhances the existing ones with European regions, regional organisations, international financial institutions and other partners, with the aim of forging partnerships for the implementation of international projects, exchange of ideas and creation of conditions to advance regional development.
The Fund implements its Specialised Programme “Management of Regional Development through EU Funds”, in order to strengthen the capacities of public administration locally
We can proudly say that AP Vojvodina is recognised as a region with a wealth of economic, scientific-technological, educational and cultural potential, as well as an excellent environment for doing business that offers numerous advantages for successful investments.
When it comes to the utilisation of EU funds, is the creation of joint projects with regional and European partners one of your strategic plans for the period ahead?
The key word is togetherness, because nothing is possible without people and nothing is permanent without institutions. It is certain that joint projects with regional and European partners are a significant generator of overall socioeconomic change. Given that projects are the starting point of cooperation, and not a goal for themselves, the Fund’s aforementioned activities are one of the ways to reach useful and relevant projects through dialogue, identifying what’s vital and recognising what has potential, but also through an overview of the challenges we endeavour to overcome.
Just as the success and outcome of every process and project is dependent on the people implementing that process or project – their knowhow and skills, the Fund implements its Specialised Programme “Management of Regional Development through EU Funds”, in order to strengthen the capacities of the public administration locally. In parallel with that, and on the doorstep of the EU’s new Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, we are also mapping the state of affairs at 45 local self-government units, with the aim of networking their potentials with suitable external sources of funding.