The Republic of Serbia is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. The country is landlocked and borders Hungary to the north; Romania and Bulgaria to the east; FYR Macedonia to the south; and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro to the west; also, it borders Albania through the disputed region of Kosovo*. The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is among Europe's oldest cities, and one of the largest in East Central Europe.
*The name does not imply Kosovo's status and is in accordance with Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Court of Justice regarding Kosovo's declaration of independence
In the recent history, Serbia became a stand-alone sovereign republic in the summer of 2006 after Montenegro voted in a referendum for independence from the Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
A special session of parliament in Belgrade declared Serbia to be the legal successor of the Union. Serbia inherited membership of the United Nations and other international institutions such as Council of Europe, OSCE, PfP, BSEC and CEFTA.
The end of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro marked the closing chapter in the history of the separation of the six republics of the old Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia which was proclaimed in 1945 and comprised Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and FYR Macedonia.
Although HDI for Serbia gradually increased, registered growth remains jobless and its benefits are unequally distributed. Absolute poverty is still high at 10%. South and Southwest Serbia remain the most economically and socially deprived regions. UNDP continues to works towards decreasing regional disparities, through interventions focused on the most vulnerable: youth, Roma and women.
A Labour Force Survey from February 2014 showed slight improvements in labour market indicators. Officially, unemployment rate is at 20.8%. The gap between supply and demand of skilled workforce remains and Serbia’s education system continues to produce a workforce that doesn’t necessarily correspond to the needs of the economy. As a consequence, the main features of the labour market are high unemployment of people with lower and intermediate education, and worryingly high long-term and youth unemployment - above 50%.
The National Employment Action Plan for 2013, adopted in December, gives priority to youth employment and to redundant workers.
The coalition Government is united in demonstrating commitment to joining the EU – which remains the centerpiece of the country’s further strategic development. Stabilisation and Association Agreement entered into force on 1st September 2013 after all EU member states ratified it. Serbia successfully underwent the first screening of chapters 23, 24 and 32 of the EU Acquis Communnaire, and the European Council decided that accession negotiations would be launched in January 2014.
Serbia has taken important steps towards a strategic framework on environmental management and sustainable energy. Government adopted the National Renewable Energy Action Plan committing to increase the amount of energy generated from renewables to 27% by 2020.
According to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan, the share of renewable is at 21.2%, from which it has not moved notably since the adoption of the Energy Strategy in 2005. To reach the 27% target, Serbia will have to take significant actions in the coming years.
With regard to climate change, the EC Progress Report 2013 acknowledges limited progress on legislation and implementation. However, binding emissions reduction commitments have still not been set.
Serbia scores relatively well on the Human Development Index (HDI). In 2014 HDI was 0.745, thus positioning Serbia in the high human development category. The country’s average annual increase is about 0.6 %, which is consistent with the projected Country Program Document target. Serbia is, however, facing structural problems that will constrain long-term growth and threaten sustained gains in the HDI.
Serbia is an official candidate for membership in the European Union, but not has opened the EU entry talks yet. Serbia is an upper-middle income economy (WB, IMF), which has made largest progress in the region in terms of overall democracy scores (FH) and overall democratic, economic and governance transformation.
Despite perpetuating political and economic constrains, the government’s commitment towards the fight against corruption significantly accelerated.