Vienna, 19 December 2006 - "At present, Serbia is experiencing a painful transformation process. With this project of the Austrian Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe, the largest in Serbia so far, we want to open up a concrete future perspective to the people at this difficult time that is also tough from the economic point of view," emphasised Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at today's presentation of the comprehensive labour market project for which support in the amount of two million euros is being provided by the Austrian Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe (ADC). "This active contribution by Austria to the positive development of the Serbian labour market will also consolidate the social and political stability of the country," said the Foreign Minister.
Despite above-average economic growth, poverty and unemployment are still widespread in Serbia. The monthly average income is approximately 200 euros, and one quarter of the population is unemployed.
To cushion the social consequences, Serbia's Ministry for Labour, Employment and Social Affairs, the Serbian Labour Market Service, ADC, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have together elaborated the "Severance to Jobs" programme. If the dismissal of employees is announced in connection with the privatisation of a state-owned enterprise, the programme is designed so that the Serbian Labour Market Service should in future be in a position to help guide them to new jobs as swiftly as possible using a comprehensive set of measures. The creation of incentives plays a special role in this effort, with employees being encouraged to re-invest their severance pay in the creation of new jobs. As a result, 10,000 new jobs are expected in the next few years.
Through the transfer of know-how, Austria is supporting the Serbian Labour Market Service in building the respective capacities to ensure that such innovative measures of pro-active labour market policy can actually be implemented in practice. The commitment mainly focuses on regions such as Vojvodina and southern Serbia, where planned restructuring processes have the potential to exacerbate the already tense situation in the labour market in the coming years. "This Austrian assistance is a further contribution to making the country's European perspective tangible and credible for the people," said Foreign Minister Plassnik.
The Austrian Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe programmes have been active in Serbia for many years. Priorities include cooperation in the fields of economic development and education. Between 1998 and 2004 Austria invested around 6.6 million euros in educational and employment projects. In addition to poverty reduction and job creation overcoming the country's social, economic, and political isolation is an important factor.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
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