The EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) marked today, on 6 March 2020, the successful completion of another joint project aimed at further enhancing the NBS capacity in the process of EU accession. The EU financed the project with a budget of 800,000 Euros.
The aim of the project was a quality preparation of the NBS to join the ESCB, upon Serbia’s accession to the EU. During the eighteen months of the project, all the planned goals were achieved, i.e. all twelve project activities were successfully implemented, within ten areas of the NBS operations. By implementing the project “Strengthening institutional capacities of the NBS in the EU accession process” the NBS once again confirmed its full commitment to continuous improvement of its operations, not only in order to respond to the challenges in the EU negotiation process, but also in order to work in the best interest of citizens and corporates in the Republic of Serbia.
In cooperation with the experts from the ESCB, the results have been achieved in the fields of economic research, financial stability, FX reserves management, financial reporting, insurance, international cooperation, liberalisation of capital movements, protection of financial service consumers, accounting and IT reporting and management.
Given that the Republic of Serbia opened all chapters where the NBS is the lead institution (Economic and monetary policy and Financial services) or the second-lead institution (Free movement of capital), as well as almost all chapters where the NBS has a significant role (eleven chapters), the exchange of experiences and knowledge during the project will also be important on the path toward successful closing of the opened chapters.
The closing ceremony in the NBS was opened by dr Jorgovanka Tabaković, NBS Governor, while speakers at the ceremony included Mr Sem Fabrizi, Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, Ms. Jadranka Joksimović, Minister for European Integration in the Government of the Republic of Serbia, and representatives of German, Romanian and Croatian embassies. The German Central Bank was represented by Mr Burkhard Balz, Member of the Executive Board, while other participants included representatives of the Croatian National Bank, Hanfa and GIZ. Representatives of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, members of the project team and other representatives of competent institutions also took part in the ceremony.
Welcoming the attendees, Governor Tabaković pointed out that all institutions and individuals are working together on Serbia’s European path with commitment, and that they are all guided by the same goal – “to enable a better life for our citizens, because only when we work together can we bring changes and fortify our economies”. She assessed that “without team work and commitment, as well as political stability for which Serbia is recognised, there would be no possibility to transform our country into a stable economy with a future”.
With regard to the success of the project, Governor Tabaković pointed out that one of the important goals achieved through this project is the creation of a network of people and ideas, involving selfless exchange of experiences and knowledge. “We wanted to learn from one another and apply the solutions that practice has shown to be good. I believe these forms of cooperation are unique opportunities for strengthening our institutions. Institutions are not the walls of buildings in which we work, but people who work within those walls and move boundaries, aspiring to build a country worthy of us and of future generations”, the Governor pointed out.
Speaking about the role of the central bank in the European integration process, Governor Tabaković stated that the challenges facing the central banks have become more complex, and their role in the European Union accession process more significant. “I believe that the results achieved by the NBS justify its role as the guarantor of stability, in the new global context as well. Low inflation preserves the real value of our citizens’ income and supports the process of convergence towards the EU. Much more favourable financing conditions, directly influenced by our measures, increase the disposable income of households and corporates and support investment, without which our projects, including this IPA Twinning Project, would not have the significance they will now have. Serbia is a step away from investment grade, and the level and quality of foreign investment in our country show that Serbia already has the reputation of an investment grade country”, assessed the Governor.
The NBS cooperated with the ESCB and other EU institutions within eight projects financed from pre-accession funds, which confirms our commitment to the EU integration process. “If we want sustainable growth, we must always consider the full picture of all developments and act in coordination with other economic policies. This is something that we have and that we promote in Serbia, just as we are basing our cooperation with the European Union on a partnership relationship. We all progress in our own way. And it is only thus, by learning from one another, that we can grow and create the best world practice in the area of central banking”, the Governor concluded.
Speaking at the conference the Ambassador of the European Union, Sem Fabrizi, pointed out: “Central banks now more than ever must be able to anticipate threats and act swiftly to preserve financial and economic stability. In this regards it is imperative for central banks to constantly work on their effectiveness and to respond with appropriate and sound policies. An independent and efficient Central Bank is one of the pillars of macroeconomic stability in every country, particularly in the EU. Our project helped the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) to further strengthen its role in the process of EU integration.
In relation to the significance of the reforms undertaken as part of the European integration process, Mrs. Jadranka Joksimović, the Minister of European Integration, has indicated that “The National Bank of Serbia’s capacities to harmonise the legislative framework with demands stemming from the accession process are significant for the EU integration process. Through proper harmonisation, the National Bank of Serbia will be able to foster a better business environment and strengthen Serbian markets and economy. Advancements in these areas will in turn develop the quality and diversity of services provided by banks and insurance companies, including better terms for loans, options for investing in foreign pension and investment funds, a high degree of consumer rights protection in the provision of banking and payment services, all of which will have an immediate impact on the quality of life for citizens”.
The project “Strengthening of the Institutional Capacities of the National Bank of Serbia in the Process of EU Accession” is financed from the EU pre-accession funds (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance – IPA) and is implemented in cooperation with a consortium of central banks of Germany, Croatia and Romania, with the support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ). The contracting authority is the Ministry of Finance’s Department for Contracting and Financing of EU-Funded Programmes.
In addition to the central banks of Germany, Romania and Croatia, the project also involved the European Central Bank, the central banks of England, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (Hanfa) and the German Federal Financial Supervisory Agency (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht – BaFin).