Will the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection manage to implement the measure of support to LAGs from the territory of Serbia envisaged by the Government's Regulation and thereby strengthen rural development and prevent the brightest, best-educated and most agile, mostly young people living in rural areas from moving to Belgrade to find a job at a river club or a sports book?
Today, on 16th July, representatives of LAGs, Ivana Stefanovic Ristin, Vesna Vandić and Igor Ilic, spoke at a meeting in the premises of the "Leader +" to the Monitoring Expert for the Western Balkans and Turkey, Mr Marjan Nik, and the Attaché for Agriculture and Rural Development of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Mr Karl-Heinz Vogel, discussing the fate of LAGs and the Leader measure to support rural development in Serbia. More than 600 rural organizations are expecting the promised support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection.
Local Action Groups (LAGs), are composed of the rural groups for development planning in rural areas whose members, according to the rules of the European Union, are representatives of local governments, civic associations and business sectors. In Serbian LAGs and the Leader measure seven years of work has been invested so far as well as funds from the donors such as UNDP, the Republic of Romania and the European Union. Donors have invested funds in the development of LAGs in the field and in providing support to the Ministry of Agriculture to accredit LAGs and announce a call for the Leader measure, i.e. the work of Local Action Groups. Now Serbia is expected to do their part.
A major shift took place on 29 January 2014 when the Government's Regulation was passed envisaging funds for LAGs, but the Call for Proposals hasn't been announced yet and we don't have any further information from the Ministry on their activities regarding that issue.
The second segment, which is very important for LAGs is the inclusion of the Leader measure in the IPARD programme 2014-2020. In this respect, it is a minor positive step that the Ministry included the Leader measure in the IPARD programme, however it is not envisaged for accreditation earlier than 2017, which is at the very end of the programme period.
The mutually agreed conclusion is that there is enough room for optimism, as the Ministry still has time to fulfill the promises for 2014. For this purpose, the project is going to initiate in partnership with the Delegation of the EU a series of meetings and workshops with relevant representatives from the Ministry during the next month.