Two-day Workshop on Reform in Water Sector

June 15, 2023

Provision of safe drinking water is one of the important services provided by the Public Utility Companies (PUC) in Serbia. However, water services are not adequately separated from other communal services - neither in accounting nor in organizational manner. Large number of PUCs provide other utility services thus they are not specialized, and current water sector service coverage at the national level is around 85%.

Those are some of the report’s key finding on status of water utility services in Serbia provided by the project „EU support to reforms in water sector services“ presented together with results and recommendation on the two-day workshop on reform in water sector held in Belgrade on 14-15 June 2023.

Among the report which is done in line with the EU water policies (EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), Drinking Water Directive (DWD), Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD), detailed research on PUCs from 20 local self-governments in Serbia based on operational, technical, institutional and financial framework which covered 20% of population was prepared.

The recommendations for improving the work of the 20 PUCs presented in the report were prepared in accordance with the EU's experiences in the sustainable provision of water services as well as with national reports on status of the water sector.

The workshop was attended by the PUCs representatives from many cities in Serbia, representatives of relevant ministries and institutions, international organizations and other projects working on improvement of status of water services sector.

During the first day of the workshop, the members of the Working Group established as part of the Project activities, discussed business planning and performance indicators for pilot PUCs, together with an IT tool for tariff calculation. On the second day of the workshop, the most significant findings and results of the project done so far were presented to the participants.

Introductory speeches were given by Ms. Marta Mihailovic, Independent Advisor from the Republic Directorate for Water and Mr. Antoine Avignon, Programme Manager from the EU Delegation in Serbia.

Ms. Mihailovic said that the Government of Serbia adopted the Water Management Plan on the territory of the Republic of Serbia until 2027, which is a key document in water management process, and aims to achieve a good status of all waters in accordance with the principles of the Water Framework Directive.

Mr. Avignon reminded that the EU support, through the financing of the projects, aims at helping Serbia to reach EU standards in the water sector.

In the continuation of the workshop, project experts presented an assessment of services of the water sector in Serbia, recommendation for separation and regionalization of the services, tariff methodology and Regulatory Body in the sector, as well as the next steps in the reform process.

The model for the establishment of the Regulatory Body as well as support to the establishment of the regulator, which will provide a methodology for tariff setting and controls the procedure related to the tariffs, aroused great interest from the participants.

The experts on the project emphasized that the project is currently only preparing proposals and guidelines on how to implement the reform, and that the further course of the reform remains with the relevant institutions.

The project activities will be continued in the next period in cooperation with the main institutions - the beneficiaries of the project, thus providing support for the continuation of the reform in the water sector.