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Serbia has officially become a Programme Country within the Erasmus+ Programme, by joining the other five non-EU Programme Countries, i.e. North Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey. EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, and Serbia’s Minister for Education, Science and Technological Development, Mladen Šarcevic, signed the formal agreement on 5 February 2019.
Before becoming a Programme Country, Serbia already took part in the Erasmus+ as a Partner Country, involving over 9 000 students and staff in mobility initiatives in 2015-2016. Serbia’s new status, however, will enable much more students, academics and youths to benefit from a broader range of activities and initiatives not only in the field of higher education, but also in sport, vocational education and training (VET) and adult education.
The said agreement is inscribed in the wider EU strategic cooperation with the Western Balkans and the related enlargement process. Serbia will likely complete its accession process in 2025, together with Montenegro, once all the necessary criteria will be met. The relevant steps to be taken and the priority agenda of the EU-Western Balkans cooperation were set out in a new EU-Western Balkans Strategy in February 2018 and in the Sofia Declaration in May 2018. In both documents, the roadmap includes a joint effort towards key policy areas, including socio-economic development with a special focus on enhancing education and mobility in VET, doubling Erasmus+ funding and working on recognition of qualifications.