Environment

Serbia opens cluster 4 in EU accession negotiations

Serbia opens cluster 4 in EU accession negotiations

Photo: Government of Serbia

Published

December 14, 2021

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Published:

December 14, 2021

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At the intergovernmental conference in Brussels on Serbia’s accession to the European Union, the country opened cluster 4, which concerns the Green Agenda and sustainable connectivity. It is comprised of four negotiating chapters.

Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić and Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović participated in Brussels today at an intergovernmental conference on the accession to the European Union. The event marked the opening of cluster 4 in the negotiations, which covers the Green Agenda and sustainable connectivity.

The entire process consists of six clusters with 35 chapters in total. Serbia earlier opened cluster 1. Cluster 4 is made of four chapters: transport policy (14), energy (15), trans-European networks (21) and environment and climate change (27).

The Serbian delegation also met with European Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, responsible for the EU neighborhood and enlargement. Brnabić said chapter 27 implies more than EUR 10 billion in investment in wastewater treatment, sewage network, regional landfills, recycling centers, transfer stations, the improvement of air quality and electric vehicle subsidies.

Criticism from nongovernmental sector

Coalition 27, a group of organizations tracking the preparations for the talks on the environment and climate change, claims the opening of chapter 27 isn’t justified, given the track record of the Government of Serbia, adding it handed its annual reports with analysis and recommendations for reforms to Minister of Environmental Protection Irena Vujović and Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlović.

Citizens still haven’t been able to see Serbia’s negotiating position on the chapter on the environment and climate change

The network pointed to environmental challenges and the exclusion of the civil society, experts and citizens from the decision-making process.

“The hard part is still ahead of us on the way to meet environmental standards and close chapter 27. At the same time, we mustn’t forget that the public still hasn’t seen Serbia’s negotiating position and that we don’t know what we are negotiating about, which obligations we took on and how much it would cost to close chapter 27. This is an ideal opportunity for the Ministry of Environmental Protection to dust off the 1,600-page document and tell the citizens what is in it,” Executive Director of Young Researchers of Serbia Tanja Petrović stated.

Legislation is advanced but implementation often lags

Serbia made significant progress in the adoption of European legislation in the area of the environment and climate change, but its implementation often lags, Coalition 27 stressed.

“Serbia is among the first five countries in the European continent in the exposure of citizens to air pollution. Due to unsanitary landfilling and illegal landfills we are facing the contamination of soil, surface waters and groundwaters and landfill fires. More than 85% of wastewaters goes into our water streams without any treatment – the Danube is our sewage. On top of all that, the deadline for the implementation of the Law on Integrated Prevention and Pollution Control was again pushed back, allowing the biggest polluters in Serbia, industrial facilities, to keep polluting for three more years without consequences,” Mirjana Jovanović from Belgrade Open School warned.

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