The Office of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (the AP Vojvodina), i.e. Vojvodina European Office, situated in the building of the Mission of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union, has been established to present, promote and increase the economic, scientific, cultural, educational and tourist capacities of the AP Vojvodina, as well as to learn about the policies of the European Union (EU) brought in Brussels and referring to regional authorities.
The AP Vojvodina has been recognised in Europe as a business environment offering a number of incentives for successful business activities, as well as a region with excellent universities and research institutes. According to fDi’s European Cities and Regions of the Future 2014/2015, Vojvodina ranked first place in the Cost Effectiveness category for mid-sized European regions out of 54 ones, fourth place in the same category for overall European regions, as well as fourth place in the FDI Strategy category for Southern European regions, whereas according to fDi’s European Cities and Regions of the Future 2016/2017, Vojvodina ranked seventh place in the FDI Strategy category out of 148 European regions.
The cultural and natural diversity of the AP Vojvodina contributes to its image outside the Republic of Serbia. The Vojvodina European Office in Brussels presents the AP Vojvodina as a successful multicultural European region in the Republic of Serbia, where high standards are applied in terms of the protection of the rights of national minorities – national communities. Vojvodina has a population exceeding two million people and there are 26 national communities and six languages in official use, which according to the number of official languages, ranks second place in Europe after the European Parliament. With 20.000 km2 of agricultural land, the share of AP Vojvodina in the state’s GDP is over 27%, and in the total export around 40%.
In Europe, regions, cities and municipalities are involved in the creation of the majority of EU policies. The subnational level of authorities in the EU is responsible for one-third of public expenditure (ca. 2000 billion euros per year) and two-third of public investments (ca. 200 billion euros), whereby they are often made in compliance with the EU regulations.
The AP Vojvodina has a developed institutional system involving the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina with 120 deputies, Provincial Government, provincial secretariats and other institutions supporting their work. In additions, there are a lot of institutions established by the AP Vojvodina, whose competencies fall within the areas of relevance to the province. The competences of the province involve the following domains: interregional cooperation; spatial planning, regional development and construction of buildings; agriculture; water management; forestry; hunting and fishery; tourism, catering industry, spas and health resorts; environmental protection; industry and craftsmanship; road, river and railway transport; organisation of fairs and other economic events; education; sports; culture; health care and social protection; public information at the provincial level; science and technological development; employment; economy and privatisation; mining and energy; and local self-government.
The Vojvodina European Office has been established with the aim of allowing a two-way communication with the regions present in Brussels and the EU institutions regulating the activities of regional authorities in Europe.
The main goal of the Vojvodina European Office in Brussels is to provide assistance to the provincial institutions in the policy creation of AP Vojvodina, in compliance with the EU principles and practice.
At the early stage of EU integration, the provincial administration should be familiar with the EU policies implemented on the regional level, which in compliance with the Law on Establishing the Competences of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and other positive legal regulations, will allow the Republic of Serbia, once an EU member state, direct participation in the EU decision-making within the established EU institutions. Therefore, it is important to maintain contact and communication with the key decision-makers and representatives of regional partners.
In this respect, the Vojvodina European Office in Brussels has the following tasks:
In addition, the Vojvodina European Office in Brussels shall maintain contacts with the organisations gathering regions, such the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), Assembly of European Regions (AER), moreover, think-thank organisations and other international ones.
In cooperation with the CoR, the EU 2020 Strategy, has been translated into the Serbian language. The Strategy has served as a model for the AP Vojvodina Development Programme 2014-2020 and the accompanying Action Plan.