A group of 26 MEPs have sent a letter to Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, warning him of the “impending environmental damage” of Chinese companies’ industrial projects in Serbia as well as China’s “growing influence” in the Balkan country.
In the letter, initiated by Miriam Lexmann MEP (EPP/Slovakia) and Reinhard Biitikofer MEP (Greens/EFA, Germany), who both co-chair the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), the 26 MEPs specifically draw attention to Chinese heavy industry projects in Smederevo, Bor, Kostolac, and Zrenjanin and call on the commissioner to remind the Serbian government to adhere to its national legislation as well as EU rules regarding the accession process.
The letter echoes concerns of people and environmental organizations in Serbia
The European parliamentarians’ letter echoes concerns of people and organizations in Serbia, as well as the wider region, who have been protesting against the environmental impacts and legal violations surrounding Chinese companies’ projects. In September 2020, eight organizations from Southeast Europe called on the EU to do more to tackle this issue.
Chinese projects in Serbia have caused “dramatic” air pollution
The European parliamentarians warn in the letter that the Chinese heavy industry investments in Serbia “have taken air pollution to dramatic levels, whereas the quality of drinking water is under threat, putting in severe danger the well-being of numerous people living close to the plants.”
Noting that “Chinese investment projects lack transparency and sustainability,” the MEPs urge the EU to call on the Serbian government “to address the impact of these investments.”