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The Western Balkans’ energy transition must be fair and inclusive

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BELGRADE – The Berlin Process offers the opportunity for different actors to contribute to the advancement of European integration and the rapprochement of the Western Balkans region with the European Union, it was said during the presentation on Friday recommendations developed by the Thematic Working Group on Energy. as part of the Civil Society Forum, which will be held in Tirana on October 14 and 15.

As indicated during the event organized by the Regulatory Institute for Renewable Energy and the Environment (RERI), which leads the working group, energy represents an important but difficult area in the process of European integration of Western Balkans.

Director of the RERI program, Mirko Popovicsaid the region’s inclusion in the carbon emissions trading system would be of exceptional importance as a signal of the region’s membership of the European Union.

According to him, by 2030, it will be necessary not only to make decisions but also to implement specific policies for the region to help achieve the carbon neutrality objectives set by the European Union.

“The period until 2030 will be intense and during this period, countries in the region will need to get as close as possible to the decarbonization targets and climate policies set by the European Union. The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans renewed the political commitments of the countries of the region and confirmed their commitment to the energy transition process and improving the sustainability of the region,” said Popović.

He stressed that the energy transition must not only be fair but also inclusive, based on the contributions of all actors who can participate in the process and make a concrete contribution to the improvement of public policies.

Speaking about the recommendations developed by civil society and which will be presented at the Tirana forum, Popović believed that these recommendations should be translated into concrete measures.

“The least we can expect as civil society is responses to the recommendations. Previous experience with the energy transition has shown that civil society can participate effectively in problem solving. However, our previous recommendations have not been implemented, which is a problem that needs to be highlighted,” Popović said.

He also raised the issue of the rule of law, which is an essential precondition for countries in the region to join the EU and should also be a key criterion when it comes to energy policy.

“The problems of countries in the region are diverse, but there are many similarities. Environmental pollution resulting from unsustainable management of electricity and energy systems, leading to human rights violations, is a problem common to all. Furthermore, we are facing a problem fundamentally linked to the rule of law, namely the violation of the Energy Community Treaty by the signatory parties,” Popović said.

The recommendations proposed by the working group also concern issues related to the implementation of the Energy Community Member States’ directives on large combustion plants and industrial emissions. “We propose that this negotiation process takes a slightly different negotiation dimension and suggest strengthening the role of European and national parliaments as holders of sovereignty,” Popović added.

He stressed that civil society organizations are calling on the European Commission to prepare a report on the implementation of the Energy Community Treaty before its extension in 2026. As he explained, the latest report of this type on the implementation of the treaty was published in 2011 and it would be useful to take stock of the progress made before extending it.

Photo: FoNet

During the event, energy expert Aleksandar Kovačević presented some recommendations from civil society organizations for decision-makers in the region and the EU. As he explained, these recommendations focus on two key areas of action: the rule of law and a just and inclusive energy transition.

According to civil society recommendations, the energy transition in the region should be fair and inclusive, taking into account the issue of extreme energy poverty and addressing the challenges faced by the most vulnerable economically dependent groups and regions of coal mining.

Therefore, the decarbonization process must embody three key characteristics: democratization, demonopolization and decentralization, particularly in electricity production and in the role of households and businesses as producers and consumers of electricity.

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