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 34

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 Period Budget

15.06.2013 - 31.05.2018

CHF 8'460'000

Roma Take an Active Role in Improving their Living Conditions

A Roma family building the walls of their house.

01.05.2013 - 31.12.2017

Roma in Serbia live in difficult social and economic conditions. Some 60% of them are categorised as "very poor". In many Roma settlements the people live in cramped conditions with poor infrastructure and inadequate levels of hygiene. The project's objectives are to improve living conditions for Roma in the areas of housing, employment and income, and to guarantee and strengthen their rights.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
Education policy
Health system strengthening
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Education policy and administrative management
Health policy and administrative management

01.05.2013 - 31.12.2017

CHF 4'538'000

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.

Schweizerisches Rotes Kreuz (SRK) / Swiss Red Cross (SRC) (Kredit Ost)

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2018

The SRC’s overall goal is to contribute to healthy and safe living for vulnerable groups and communities. Since access to quality health care services remains a key factor for good health, the SRC promotes both supply and demand side of local health systems. As healthy living also depends on the environment, SRC focuses on health determinants such as water, sanitation, nutrition and health literacy. Adressing risks and disasters, SRC programmes encompass disaster risk reduction measures and foster community resilience.

Brot für alle / Pain pour le prochain (Kredit Ost)

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2018

En tant qu’organisation de développement des églises protestantes suisses, Pain pour le Prochain a le mandat d’informer et de former, de s’engager dans la politique de développement et d’assurer la qualité. Pain pour le Prochain et les onze œuvres partenaires forment une communauté de coopération (KoGe)[1] qui est un réseau d’apprentissage avec des objectifs spécifiques. Ce réseau permet notamment de joindre le travail de politique de développement en Suisse et le travail au Sud. Son objectif commun est de contribuer à une transformation du système et des comportements économiques, sociaux, politiques et écologiques.


[1] Les œuvres sont les suivantes : Pain pour le prochain, cfd (Christlicher Friedensdienst), Mission 21, International Blue cross, Connexio, DM-échange et mission, Heilsarmee, Horyzon, MEB-handicap visuel, SME (service de missions et d’entraide) , Tear Fund Schweiz, HEKS 

Caritas Schweiz (Kredit Ost)

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2018

La stratégie de coopération internationale 2020 de Caritas s’intitule « End Poverty ». Pour y contribuer Caritas Suisse s’engage en faveur de la justice sociale et de la dignité humaine dans 40 pays avec 250 projets. Le programme de Caritas considère trois aspects dans son programme qui permettent la durabilité du développement humain: couvrir les besoins de base, promouvoir la résilience et créer des opportunités d’égalité en améliorant l’équité. Dans sa conception, Caritas considère la coopération au développement et l’aide humanitaire comme intégrées dans une seule démarche.

Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation (Kredit Ost)

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2018

Helvetas s’engage avec ses partenaires pour un développement librement déterminé de personnes et de communautés défavorisées dans les pays en développement et apporte une aide à s’aider par soi-même. Helvetas favorise l’accès équitable aux ressources vitales et la protection des droits sociaux, économiques, politiques, environnementaux et culturels.

Solidar Suisse (Kredit Ost)

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2018

Solidar Suisse oriente son programme de développement sur les besoins et les droits des personnes vulnérables et défavorisées dans les pays les plus pauvres et dans les pays émergents et en transition où les inégalités sont profondes. Solidar Suisse développe des programmes qui renforcent les mouvements sociaux et promeuvent l’intégration active de la société civile dans les processus politiques. Le « travail décent » est devenu l’élément phare de Solidar Suisse qui a développé une véritable expertise dans cette thématique.

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.

Object 1 – 12 of 34