Rural development to be important topic in talks with EU

BELGRADE - Serbia has great prospects for development of rural areas, but also many shortcomings, which will be an important topic during the EU accession process, it was concluded at a workshop on the strengthening of actors in the field of rural development.

The two groups comprising experts from EU member states, representatives of the European Commission, the civil society sector in Serbia, and representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture toured some rural areas in Serbia on March 31 and April 1, and then presented their conclusions at a final conference in Belgrade on Wednesday.

Agriculture and food production account for 12 percent of Serbia's GDP, while the level of employment in this sector is well above the EU average, and the state has a surplus in trade in these products with the EU, participants of the workshop noted.

The EU delegation continues working with actors in the field of rural development in an effort to make these areas more competitive, so that the agricultural sector could successfully prepare for the country's EU entry, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Oscar Benedikt said.

The moment in which this event has been organized coincides with the preparations of operational programs in the countries in the region for the IPA Rural Development (IPARD), which represents a basic instrument of the Commission for offering financial assistance to EU aspirant countries with a view to strengthening their agricultural and rural economy, Benedikt said.

Since 2007, the EU has been assisting Serbia in preparations for the IPARD, he said, calling on the minister of agriculture to meet the deadlines set in the IPA program for 2014.

Together with the delivered conclusions, the groups...

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