The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, envisaged by the European Green Deal, is expected to be endorsed by the Western Balkan leaders at a summit in Bulgarian capital Sofia in November, the European Commission has said.
In the European Green Deal, a plan to make the EU climate neutral by 2050, the commission says that “the ecological transition for Europe can only be fully effective if the EU’s immediate neighborhood also takes effective action.”
The announcement comes as part of the presentation of a EUR 9 billion Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans
This announcement comes as part of the presentation of a EUR 9 billion Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, adopted by the European Commission.
In parallel to the plan, the commission has presented guidelines for implementing the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, which envisages actions around five pillars, covered also by the European Green Deal:
- (I) climate action, including decarbonization, energy, and mobility
- (II) circular economy, addressing in particular waste, recycling, sustainable production, and efficient use of resources
- (III) biodiversity, aiming to protect and restore the natural wealth of the region
- (IV) fighting air, water, and soil pollution and
- (V) sustainable food systems and rural areas
According to the commission, digitalization will be a key enabler for these pillars in line with the concept of the dual green and digital transition.
The Green Agenda: a blueprint for possible measures
The Guidelines for the Implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans outline in more detail the actions related to the Green Agenda, the document reads.
The Green Agenda should be seen as a blueprint for possible measures to be adopted jointly by the EU and each of the Western Balkan partners, and it brings the most important initiatives for each of the five pillars.
When it comes to climate change, for example, the most important actions are to facilitate a swift alignment with the EU Climate Law and explore options for early inclusion of the Western Balkans in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
In clean energy transition, the key initiatives include support in the alignment with the EU acquis related to decarbonization in the framework of the Energy Community and the development of National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).
In the field of mobility, the most relevant initiatives include assistance in the implementation of sustainable urban mobility plans and support in implementing sustainable mobility solutions.
For air pollution, the commission underlines assistance in developing and implementing Air Quality Strategies
For air pollution, the commission underlines helping countries in the region to develop and implement Air Quality Strategies, increasing the uptake of Best Available Techniques in line with the Industrial Emissions Directive, and obtaining accreditation for air quality monitoring networks.
Integrating the Western Balkans into the EU industrial supply chains and developing a regional agreement on the prevention of plastic pollution are among the initiatives related to the circular economy.
The Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans
According to the commission’s press release, subject to the adoption of the next Multiannual Financial Framework, it proposes to mobilize up to EUR 9 billion of IPA III funding for the period 2021-2027 to support economic convergence with the EU.
In addition, the investment capacity of the region should be boosted by mobilizing a new Western Balkans Guarantee facility 4, with the ambition to potentially raise investments of up to EUR 20 billion.
The Plan identifies ten investment flagships, including:
FLAGSHIP 4 – Renewable energy
- The rehabilitation of HPP Fierza and the construction of HPP Skavica (Albania),
- The expansion of HPP Piva and the construction of HPP Komarnica (Montenegro),
- The construction of the Ibër-Lepenc Hydro System Phase II (Kosovo*),
- Wind park and solar power plant investments in North Macedonia.
FLAGSHIP 5 – Transition from coal
- The construction of gas pipeline Fier-Vlora (Albania) and gas interconnections Bosnia and Herzegovina – Croatia, North Macedonia – Kosovo*, and North Macedonia – Serbia
- The Trans-Balkan Electricity Transmission Corridor in Serbia.
FLAGSHIP 6 – Renovation wave
The commission proposes to expand the “EU renovation wave” to the Western Balkans.
FLAGSHIP 7 – Waste and wastewater management
- The construction of wastewater treatment plants in Skopje and Pristina
- Regional waste management systems in Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.