Details for Re-linking the Western Balkans: The Energy Dimension

Name:Re-linking the Western Balkans: The Energy Dimension

Hellenic Centre for European Studies (EKEM - Greece)

The West Balkan region consists of Albania and the former states of Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo). Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. To this date it has been recognized by 70 states, including the United States. Five EU member states, including Greece, have not recognized Kosovo’s independence.
The wars of Yugoslav succession that dominated the first post-Cold War decade of Southeast Europe’s political and economic development have had structurally negative repercussions for the energy industry and infrastructure in most West Balkan states. It was only after the establishment of the Energy Community Treaty in 2005 that a robust regulatory framework was established with the purpose of streamlining the region’s economies with EU transparency and liberalization norms so as to prepare the West Balkan region for a massive inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) that could rejuvenate the energy infrastructure and more effectively utilize each country’s energy resources.

Despite the fact that the EU and the West Balkan states face the common challenges of increasing energy efficiency, reducing import dependency, and expanding renewable energy sources (RES), the current state of affairs in the region is inadequate or sub-standard, with the sole exception of Croatia, which has advanced significantly in aligning its legislation and policies with the EU acquis communautaire. The West Balkan countries are at differing positions along the path of European integration and they each hold varying energy and environmental standards and targets. The pace of alignment with EU practices and legislation within the region, especially at the level of electricity/gas market liberalization and interconnectivity and regulatory/market transformations, leaves much to be desired.
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