Switzerland supports Serbia on its path to integration in Europe through contributing to its transition to democracy, strengthening its economy and the social integration of disadvantaged groups.  Swiss support is directed at local governance, economic development, energy efficiency and renewable energies.

Map of Serbia

High levels of unemployment, the burden of its national debt and a bloated public sector are major challenges facing Serbia.  The Serbian infrastructure and economy, especially industry, were severely affected in the years following international sanctions and the NATO air strikes in 1999. The multitude of state-owned companies is impeding competition and the country‘s economic development.  The underground economy is currently estimated to account for at least 30% of GDP.  Serbia is currently a candidate for membership of the European Union (EU), and the negotiations for its accession should accelerate political, economic, social and environmental reforms in the country.

Democracy, decentralisation and local governance

Switzerland is assisting the Serbian government with the process of decentralisation it introduced to strengthen local authority capacities and enhance the quality of public services for its citizens, in particular marginalised groups.  Switzerland encourages local authorities to ensure transparency and accountability towards civil society and to improve economic and financial governance in the country.

State and Economic Reforms

Economic promotion

In the lesser developed regions of Serbia, Switzerland helps small and medium-sized businesses improve their competitiveness and promotes the integration of women and young people into the job market. To boost job creation Switzerland is working to improve the framework conditions for the private sector by facilitating access to financing, supporting measures to enhance productivity and promoting the export of Serbian goods and services.  Switzerland also supports reforms in the area of public finances and the financial markets, thereby contributing to stability in the macroeconomic environment in Serbia.

Private Sector Development and financial services

Energy efficiency and renewable energy

Raising energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies are essential for improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions; they are also requirements for EU membership. Switzerland is investing in Serbia‘s energy infrastructure and promoting the production of renewable energies, especially biomass energy. In particular it is supporting the construction of a district heating network, the establishment of a long-term energy plan and improvements in professional skills at the local level.

Energy supply


The SDC and SECO are implementing migration partnerships between Switzerland and the Western Balkans for 2012–2015 in close collaboration with the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). This includes improving economic and social conditions for the Roma people and other disadvantaged groups. Switzerland contributes to reducing emigration pressure in Serbia through projects to provide training and improve the quality of housing. It also assists Serbian migrants who choose to return home and supports the Serbian government in managing migration.


Approach and partners

Switzerland closely coordinates its transition cooperation with the Serbian authorities, other donor countries and international organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union and the international financial institutions. All of Switzerland's programmes incorporate the principles of good governance and equal rights.

Switzerland's main partners in Serbia are:

  • ministries, city and municipal authorities, the national association of municipalities
  • Swiss NGOs: Swiss Church Aid (HEKS) in close cooperation with a local organisation, EHO.
  • Bilateral and multilateral partners: the EU, Germany, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, the United Nations Office for Project Services, KfW Development Bank.

History of cooperation

From humanitarian aid to transition support

The SDC has been active in Serbia since 1991 in line with Switzerland's foreign policy objective to strengthen peace and stability in south-eastern Europe. Initially and until the end of the conflicts in October 2000, the SDC primarily provided humanitarian aid. From 2001 to the present, the SDC and SECO have carried out several long-term programmes to support the country's transition.


Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 28

The social integration of Roma children requires education

A group of Roma children in a classroom taking part in arts and crafts.

15.06.2013 - 31.05.2018

As in other Eastern European countries, not all children in Serbia have the same possibility of attending school. Since 2004 the SDC has been actively involved in promoting the integration of Roma children and children with disabilities in kindergartens and primary schools. The sooner efforts are made to combat the marginalisation of the most vulnerable groups, the greater the chance of their integration in society in the long term.

Country/region Topic Period Budget

15.06.2013 - 31.05.2018

CHF 8'460'000

Municipal Development in South and South West Serbia

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Switzerland will support the Serbian government to reform local administrations and ensure wide use of good governance principles in order to make local governments and services more effective and accessible to citizens. SwissPRO will scale up intervention to 99 municipalities (2/3 of the entire country) south of Belgrade to improve good governance, social inclusion and gender equality. It complements EUPRO which focuses on economic development and together they are the largest development intervention in Serbia.

Support to strengthening Social Inclusion in Serbia

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

The programme is a contribution to improve the design, coordination and implementation of social inclusion policies of the Government of Serbia within the mandate of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit (SIPRU), which is affiliated to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. The quality and the capacities for implementation of the required social reforms, in the Europan integration process, will be improved and state institutions at national and local level will be able to better respond to the needs of vulnerable citizens.

Private Sector Development in South-West Serbia

01.06.2017 - 31.05.2022

The Private Sector Development (PSD) South-West Serbia Programme supports the development of more inclusive, equitable and non-discriminatory market systems, through interventions in the sectors of traditional products (raspberry and honey) and tourism. This will provide rural population and specifically young people and women, access to employment and income opportunities, as well as improved access to finance, social benefits and know-how.

Municipal Economic Development in Eastern Serbia

01.05.2017 - 30.04.2021

The Project will scale up successful experience of property tax collection to 1/3 of Serbian municipalities. The municipalities will be able to increase own revenue and use it to fund services and communal intrastructures for citizens and businesses. lmproved taxation will also lead to a better interaction between citizens and local governments on investment priorities. Policy dialogue will work on simplifying local government tax laws and making them fairer and more transparent.

Social lnclusion and lmprovement of Living Conditions for Roma and other Vulnerable Groups in Serbia

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2018

This project, being a part of the broad HEKS-EHO program, defines an innovative approach to tackle access to quality education and improving of housing conditions of Roma. Through the dweller driven housing model, the project is upgrading the substandard Roma settlements, providing better living conditions for Roma. By institutionalisation of Roma teacher‘s assistants in education, it assists in enrollment and higher attainment of Roma pupils and skills increase of Roma adults, contributing to a more sustainable integration of Roma.

Strengthening Oversight Function and Transparency of the Parliament

01.11.2015 - 31.10.2019

To benefit Citizens whom they represent, parliamentarians have an important stake in law making including accurate consultation mechanisms. Equally important is their oversight function over the executive's expenditures. Also, the representation of Citizens as per their political power and regional affiliation reflects important features of an effective parliament. The intervention will address identified shortcomings both in the National Assembly as well as in local assemblies of Serbia, thus enhancing their democratic legitimation.

From Education to Employment (E2E): Youth Skills Development and Public Private Partnership

01.04.2015 - 31.12.2019

One of the most challenging problems and a key concern of the Government of Serbia is high youth unemployment (51%). With the EU Accession negotiations, a new strategic dialogue on employment and social issues has been launched. The Government of Serbia has invited Switzerland to support the dual VET reform in Serbia. The E2E program aims to assist the development of a system of tailor made youth employment policies and measures to stimulate employment prospects through public private partnerships.

Private Sector Development South Serbia

01.10.2014 - 30.09.2018

The Private Sector Development South Serbia Programme will contribute to increased income and employment opportunities for the population, especially young people and women, of 90 (out of 167) Serbian municipalities. This will be mainly achieved by reorienting training and skills development to the demand of the private sector and promoting efficient and functional cooperation among relevant actors of the Furniture/wood and Horticulture sectors.

Resources for Local Democracy

01.09.2014 - 31.10.2019

At the request of the Serbian Government, SDC will support three reforms on Serbia’s path towards European integration: 1) the enforcement of a municipal finance law that awards good performance of local governments and ensures the necessary resources for democratic decisions; 2) the development of regional development policies for reducing regional disparities, including mechanisms for disaster risk prevention; and 3) high quality municipal audits aiming to achieve a rational use of public resources.

Institutional Support to Standing Conferenceof Towns and Municipalities

01.05.2014 - 30.04.2018

Serbia remains fairly centralized while local governments have limited capacities. Division of tasks, responsibilities and competencies between municipalities and central state is important. The Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM), association of local governments in Serbia, strives to overcome gaps between central and local level. SDC supports SCTM advocacy department to represent municipalities before the central government and support its members to implement policies and regulations.


Municipal Development in South and SouthWest Serbia - European PROGRES

01.05.2014 - 31.03.2018

The European Partnership with Municipalities Program funded by Switzerland, the EU and Serbia supports 34 underdeveloped municipalities in South and South West Serbia. The Program addresses municipal capacities to plan for development, attract investments and improves service delivery for 1 million citizens and the private sector in line with good governance pnnciples. It also contributes to enhanced multi-ethnic dialogue and improved cooperation between central and local governments.


Object 1 – 12 of 28