In Belgrade, on June 20, 2024, the second meeting of Working Group 15 of the National Convention on the European Union was held. The meeting was opened by Sonja Licht, President of the Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society, and Damir Dizdarević, Coordinator of WG 15. The agenda included very important topics for energy policy, with a particular focus on the initiative to include Serbia and the Western Balkans in the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and a discussion on the potential use of nuclear energy in the Republic of Serbia.

As in the first session of Working Group 15, held in February this year, the second session of the Working Group was also dedicated to informing members about the process of Serbia and the region joining the EU Emissions Trading System, one of the main tools the European Union uses to combat global warming. This initiative is being addressed by the BFPE within the “Sustainable Development for All” platform as part of the environmental protection pillar. The goal of this advocacy activity is, besides the regional level at which this initiative is already being implemented through the project “Western Balkans: Decarbonization for Energy Security,” to gather experts, policymakers, and decision-makers in Serbia so that all key actors are better prepared for future activities in this field. Informing members of the Working Group about Serbia’s accession to the EU ETS is of fundamental importance to include representatives of civil society organizations and the wider expert public in the initiative, considering the importance of this process and the need for joint action to achieve this goal as soon as possible.

Aleksandar Kovačević, an expert and associate of WG15, presented the latest developments regarding the initiative to include Serbia and the Western Balkans in the EU ETS. At the CEPS Ideas Lab conference held in Brussels in March, which was attended by BFPE representatives, 75% of attendees assessed the initiative as feasible, while the remaining 25% did not have enough information but were not negatively inclined towards it. Most participants believe that it is necessary to overcome political obstacles for Serbia and the entire region to join the EU ETS system. Inclusion in this system is crucial for new investments in the power sector, decarbonization, and ensuring a secure, affordable, and economically viable energy supply.

It was emphasized that joining the EU ETS is the first step towards the gradual accession of Serbia and the Western Balkans to the European Union. At the Spring Seminar of the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, it was highlighted that energy security is a prerequisite for the economic and industrial development of the region.

Representatives of the BFPE, together with representatives of the Ministry of Mining and Energy of Serbia, also participated in the Macedonian Energy Forum in Skopje, where representatives of energy ministries from the region showed significant interest in joining the EU ETS. A document is currently being prepared for the ministerial meeting in Banja Luka, which will formally request inclusion in this system. Kovačević emphasized the need for a detailed plan that would include free allocations within the EU ETS and create conditions for the necessary investments. This process is seen as a concrete step towards gradual accession to the EU, providing an opportunity for the development of the region, as well as for Serbia.

The second part of the session was dedicated to a discussion on nuclear energy in the Republic of Serbia, featuring speakers Slobodan Bubnjević, a science journalist and writer, and Dr. Dragomir Bondžić from the Institute for Contemporary History.

The session concluded with a discussion on key recommendations for the Ministry of Mining and Energy and the selection of topics for the next WG15 session. The members of Working Group 15 agreed that a comprehensive energy development strategy in line with EU standards is necessary, with special attention to the education of personnel and public support for energy projects. Additionally, the members of the Working Group offered active support for Serbia’s path to the EU ETS and emphasized the importance of cooperation among civil society organizations, experts, and the academic community in this endeavor.

Sustainable development for all

17 global goals

Guided by these goals, we work together to build a better future for all.

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