France and Serbia
Since the restoration of our diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 16 November 2000, our links with Belgrade have steadily developed and taken the form of constant support for the new Serbia. Our relationship is strong and covers all areas, although it retains a clear room for improvement on trade issues, even if it receives the approval of the authorities.
Since the French Prime Minister’s visit to Belgrade in November 2014:
several Serbian public figures have visited France:
Ms Jadranka Joksimović, Minister responsible for European Integration (November 2014),
Mr Ivica Dačić, Minister of Foreign Affairs (December 2014),
Ms Snežana Bogosavljević-Bošković, Minister of Agriculture and Environment Protection (February 2015),
Mr Ivica Dačić and the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Ms Maja Gojković (11 January 2015).
several French public figures have visited Belgrade:
Mr Jean-Marc Todeschini, French Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance (March 2015),
Senator Alain Richard, Special Representative for Economic Diplomacy in the Balkans (April 2015),
Mr Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs (November 2015).
France has made significant efforts towards cooperation with Serbia in the form of budget support, emergency measures and Priority Solidarity Fund (FSP) appropriations of several million euros, in order to boost cooperation in five sectors regarded as strategic: institutional cooperation, independent media development, review of the education system, public health and higher education reform.
Our cooperation also relies on the presence of French technical experts seconded to the local authorities.
Our cooperation supports a plan to revive the study of French in the education system, develops inter-university exchanges, training programmes for cultural professions (the French Institute in Belgrade plays an essential role on the city’s cultural scene) and promotes research programmes between laboratories. The French School in Belgrade currently has 516 students.
Serbian student mobility to France is a high priority of France’s diplomatic post which devoted over €280,000 to this issue in 2015. Since 2000, the French Government has awarded more than 300 scholarships to students from Serbia.
- French Embassy in Belgrade
- French Cultural Centre in Belgrade
- Branch of the French Cultural Centre in Novi Sad
- Branch of the French Cultural Centre in Niš
The progress of Serbia’s accession negotiations is a positive signal and is opening up new economic prospects. Serbia has benefited in particular from EU and multilateral funding (pre-accession funds) in the fields of transport, infrastructure, water and the environment.
Our results have increased constantly since 2009; in 2014, our trade amounted to €6.286 billion (up 10.9% compared with 2013), i.e. its highest level in the last 10 years, so that France is Serbia’s 12th-largest partner, but our trade balance is now in deficit (€285 million in exports and €341 million in imports). Our trade doubled again in 2015.
France ranks tenth among investors, after the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Norway, Germany, Italy, etc.
Our FDI stock in Serbia (€930 million according to the Banque de France in 2013, or 46% of that invested in the former Yugoslavia - excluding Slovenia) is to cover the entire Balkans to support the development of markets and creation of added value and jobs. Our companies are mobilized on major projects in the air, rail and urban transport sectors, energy, and construction and urban infrastructure.
More than 80 French firms employ nearly 9,000 people in Serbia.
- Crédit Agricole and Société Générale (banking)
- Lactalis and Bongrain (agrifood)
- Schneider Electric and Atos (ICTs)
- Kering (tanning industry)
- Le Bélier (foundry services)
- Samsic (support services provider)
- Lafarge (public works and civil engineering)
- Tarkett (flooring)
- Consolis and Mecaplast (transport equipment)
- Michelin, Lohret and Streit (automotive industry)
- Quivogne (farming equipment)
Most French investment has benefited from past privatization programmes. The current programme, which was revived by the Vučić government (and is to include the national airport and Belgrade and Novi Sad road maintenance and development companies) could therefore be used to expand the French presence.
Bilateral visits have also helped revitalize many cooperation projects concerning structuring projects and our companies’ areas of excellence, and boosted several major contracts in the energy, automotive and services sectors.