The European Agency for Reconstruction's manages on behalf of the European Commission the European Union's main assistance programmes in the Republic of Serbia, Kosovo*, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The agency was established in February 2000 as the EU's main reconstruction arm in war-damaged Kosovo and later expanded to Serbia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The agency's headquarters is in Thessaloniki, Greece. It has operational centres in Pristina, Belgrade, Podgorica and Skopje.
An independent agency of the European Union, EAR is accountable to the Council and the European Parliament and overseen by a Governing Board composed of representatives from the 27 EU Member States and the European Commission.
The Agency initially had a five-year mandate (from 2000 until the end of 2004). This has been extended twice by Council Decisions, and the mandate currently runs until the end of 2008.
The EC assistance funds delegated to the Agency for management in 2006 amounted to some €244 million, most of it from the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) programme. Since 2000, the Agency has managed a cumulative total of some €2.86 billion of EU taxpayers' money across its four operational centres. The Agency’s work is part of the wider Stabilisation and Association Process – the EU’s key strategy for the Western Balkans region. As the largest EU body managing assistance in the Balkans, the Agency is helping the region achieve lasting peace and prosperity, and progress towards eventual EU membership.
The Agency’s emphasis has evolved from post-conflict reconstruction to helping countries with reform in areas such as justice and home affairs, public administration and public finance, and economic development. Today, programmes strengthen central and local administration, the police and the judiciary, public finances, the agricultural, transport and energy sectors, the environment and state utility providers.
EC funds are helping the region establish the conditions for economic growth, with a particular emphasis on attracting investment. The Agency also works closely with IFIs to facilitate investment. Projects also promote social development, with a special focus on minorities, women, refugees and the displaced, and the strengthening of civil society, including independent media.
Serbia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also benefit from European Commission assistance not managed by the Agency. This includes macro-financial, humanitarian, democratisation, customs and fiscal planning aid, support for higher education cooperation programmes, the CARDS Regional Programme, and support for the EU Pillar of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The region also receives bilateral aid from EU Member States.
The Agency operates in four locations (Serbia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and in focal areas such as public & local administration, justice & home affairs, energy, infrastructure & transport, health, enterprise development, rural development, water & environment, civil society & media, education.
The objectives of new EC-funded programmes managed by the Agency are:
to support good governance, institution building and the rule of law
to continue supporting the development of a market economy while
investing further in critical physical infrastructure and environmental actions
to support social development and the strengthening of civil society.
Projects are designed to support the region's own reform processes, and especially to help strengthen the 'state machinery' of central and local administration, the police, the judiciary, public finances, and state utility providers.
The Agency operates within the wider framework of the European Commission's CARDS programme (Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation) for the Western Balkans. The CARDS programme follows 5-year Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) and 3-year Multi-Annual Indicative Programmes (MIPS), which set out the overall priority sectors for the region. These priorities vary slightly between the countries as the circumstances and the needs differ.
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