Serbia is to receive the support from the Kingdom of Sweden in the amount of EUR 2.8 million for the realization of the Phase 3 of the Environmental Accession Programme (ENVAP) which has been presented in Belgrade.
The cooperation agreement on this program was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. The received funds will be used by the Ministry, the Negotiating Group responsible for the preparation of the negotiation process and the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, a part of the funds will be directed to the public communication programs on the development and the results of the negotiations in the field of environmental protection defined in Chapter 27 of the accession negotiations for Serbia’s membership in the European Union.
“Since we are talking about a decades-long process that is one of the most expensive and most demanding chapters in the negotiation process, it is important not to set over-ambitious goals which are impossible to accomplish. Therefore the support of Sweden should be focused on the quality of the preparation of the negotiation process in order to set realistic and achievable goals,” said Swedish Ambassador Jan Lundin to reporters before the event.
So far Sweden has supported Serbia with a total of EUR 100 million in the field of environmental protection which makes it the leading country of the European Union when it comes to the support for the development of Serbia in the field of environmental protection.
Stana Božović, State Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection has reminded that Serbia has received a recommendation from the European Commission for the opening of Chapter 27, with no initial criteria. She noted that the hardest part for Serbia begins with the opening of the chapters and that in this regard the support from Sweden is very valuable as it allows a good basis for the future implementation of projects in this area to be set before the process starts.
Božović has stressed that the focus will be on the sectors of water supply, waste management and wastewater management, as well as on the sector of industrial pollution, in which Serbia will invest over EUR 10 billion in the next ten years.
The Negotiating Group on behalf of Serbia comprises 22 institutions and more than 80 experts. Chapter 27 is divided into 10 components and Serbia is the most concerned about the compliance with the Directive on water, that is, wastewater treatment, water supply and sewerage. It has been said that Serbia should build 320 wastewater treatment plants in order to increase wastewater treatment from actual 8% in 44 plants to 99 or 100%.
Another major issue will be waste management as currently only 5% of waste is recycled and the goal is to reach a share of 50% of recycled, that is redirected from landfills waste.
It is emphasised at the event that the Serbian Government has approved four agreements in the environmental field this year – the Environmental Infrastructure Support Programme EISP, the Priority Environmental Infrastructure for Development Programme (PEID), the Chemicals Management and the Environmental Accession Programme (ENVAP 3).
Deputy Director of the European Integration Office Srđan Majstorović has said that the communication with the public about the program is a very important component for improving the visibility of the reforms in the field of environmental protection. He especially emphasized the media’s role not only in bringing this topic closer to citizens, but also in making them familiar with the results of the negotiations.