Ministerial Council approves Georgia’s accession to the Energy Community, adopts new environmental legislation
The 14th Energy Community Ministerial Council unanimously approved the accession of the Republic of Georgia to the Energy Community Treaty at its meeting in Sarajevo today, reads the press release published on the organizations website. The Council also took important decisions on expanding the environmental and climate dimension of the Energy Community and adopted a list of priority infrastructure projects to facilitate the integration of the pan-European energy market. “With yet another new country joining the Energy Community family, this framework for the creation of a pan-European energy system is once again showing that it is relevant and successful!”, Dominique Ristori said when welcoming the nine ministers from the Western Balkan countries, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Opening the meeting on behalf of the Presidency of the Energy Community, Mr Mirko Šarović, thanked the Energy Community for being the pivotal instrument for leading energy reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region and the Energy Community Secretariat for its support.
The Ministerial Council adopted four decisions expanding the current scope of the environmental acquis. The decisions update the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and the Sulphur in Fuels Directive to ensure their application in the Energy Community in their latest versions and introduce two new directives – the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive and the Environment Liability Directive to the extent they relate to energy. As a first step towards its full application in the Energy Community, the Ministerial Council adopted a non-binding recommendation on the implementation of Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions.
The Ministerial Council also adopted a list of Projects of Energy Community Interest based on Regulation 347/2013 on Guidelines for Trans-European Energy Infrastructure. The selected projects, which include inter alia the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor, a gas interconnection between Bulgaria and Serbia and an oil pipeline between Poland and Ukraine, may benefit from streamlined permitting, regulatory incentives, cross-border cost allocation procedures and funding under the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance and the Neighbourhood Investment Facility. The Ministerial Council also recommended to extend these benefits to Projects of Mutual Interest, which cover infrastructure of significant regional importance, including a gas interconnector between Romania and Moldova and a gas interconnector with reverse-flow capabilities between Slovak Republic and Ukraine.
The Protocol on the Accession of Georgia to the Energy Community was signed by Mr Ilia Eloshvili, Minister Energy of Georgia, and Mr Mirko Šarović Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Georgia is expected to join the Energy Community as a full-fledged member in the course of 2017, following the ratification of the accession agreement by the Georgian Parliament.
The Ministerial Council also welcomed the application of Belarus to become an Observer to the Energy Community Treaty.
The Energy Community Ministerial Council decided on a number of dispute settlement cases for breach of the Energy Community Treaty by its Contracting Parties. The Ministerial Council established a breach of Energy Community law by Serbia for failure to respect the Second Energy Package on the interconnectors between Kosovo* and its neighbours and by former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for breaching rules on eligibility by postponing full opening of the electricity market. The Ministerial Council also established a breach of Energy Community law by former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for failing to transpose the Third Energy Package. The Ministerial Council called on these countries to rectify the breaches of Energy Community law without delay.
The Ministerial Council declared the existence of a serious and persistent breach by Serbia of its obligations in the gas sector but postponed the adoption of sanctions to 2017 following the Serbian authorities’ adoption of a binding action plan on the restructuring of Srbijagas, in line with the Third Energy Package.
On the eve of the Ministerial Council, the European Union, represented by Director General for Energy at the European Commission Mr. Dominique Ristori, and the Energy Community Secretariat, represented by its Director Mr Janez Kopač, brokered an agreement with the national and entity ministers responsible for energy of Bosnia and Herzegovina on an action plan on the transposition of the acquis in the gas sector. Upon the signature of this agreement, the Secretariat will modify its request for the extension of measures under article 92 of the Energy Community Treaty. The measures will automatically kick in if Bosnia and Herzegovina fails to adopt the measures envisaged in the action plan.