In 2003, at the Thessaloniki Summit, the European leaders committed to help the integration of the remaining Southeast European states into the EU. The promised EU membership is highly conditional – it is only granted if countries meet all economic and political criteria, and align their policies with the EU, including the ones on energy, climate and environment.
More than 10 years later, the region still struggles with the very same issues, while the current European Commission explicitly announced that there will be no enlargement before the end of its term in 2019. Together with the internal challenges that the EU is facing, the prospects for a swift admission to the EU are rather small.
Nonetheless, the EU accession remains to be the main driver of reforms in the region and the accession negotiations are ongoing. All SEE countries have either candidate or potential candidate status granted and different cooperation agreements with the EU, while Serbia and Montenegro are the front-runners and are already actively negotiating certain policy areas.
Moreover, the EU supports the accession process through the Instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA), which will provide several billion euros of financial aid to the region by 2020. Additionally, the EU currently finances the functioning of the Energy Community. In times when the EU is developing a strengthened joint energy policy through an Energy Union, a strong and stable partnership with its immediate neighbours is essential. All funds invested in these processes must ensure that the region is on track towards a just transition to a zero carbon future.
CAN Europe follows EU accession negotiations, with particular focus on Serbia. We advocate for a prompt implementation of EU environmental and social standards in Southeast Europe, as well as the ambitious climate and energy targets.
Focus on Serbia
Accession negotiations are particularly lively in Serbia, a country that plans to build several new coal power plants right before joining the EU. Hence, we put particular focus on Serbia, strengthening the NGO engagement during the EU accession negotiations, so that EU policies are not watered down in the process.
In doing so, we are part of the Coalition 27, an NGO group that monitors and influences the negotiation concerning environment and climate legislation. The members of the Coalition also include Belgrade Open School, CEKOR, Environment Improvement Centre, GM Optimist, NGO Fractal, WWF Serbia, and Young Researchers of Serbia.
- Serbia on the Road to EU Accession: Securing ambition for Chapter 27 (2016) Civil Society Organisation's assessment on the Progress of Serbia of Chapter 27 -- Environment and Climate Change, for 2015. The report lays out the main developments in environmental and climate policy in Serbia, analyses challenges and provides recommendations on how to move forward.
- Civil Society Contribution to Serbia 2014 Progress Report. Overview of Chapter 27: Environment and Climate Change (2015). CSOs’ assessment on the Progress of Serbia of Chapter 27 - Environment and Climate Change, for 2014. The report lays out the main developments in environmental and climate policy in Serbia, analyses challenges and provides recommendations on how to move forward.