The EU’s €49.6 million grant for the Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnector is pivotal to Serbia’s energy security and diversifying away from Russian gas
The European Union’s Economic and Investment Plan for the region, launched in 2020 and worth 30 billion euros, envisages a greener Western Balkans by focusing on key areas like climate action and the circular economy. The significant Clean Energy Transition initiative addresses the region’s coal dependence, with the potential to reduce emissions by 65% through a shift to natural gas. Despite costs, the EU is committed to supporting the region’s green agenda.
We are actively backing renewable energy projects, reinforcing electricity transmission systems and gas interconnectors
In response to the recent energy crisis prompted by the Ukraine conflict, the EU allocated an additional one billion euros, over half of which is designated to funding a cleaner energy transition. This highlights the EU’s active support for renewables, electricity systems and similar essentials. “Consequently, we are actively backing renewable energy projects, reinforcing electricity transmission systems and gas interconnectors,” explains EU Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, with whom we discussed projects that are relevant for Serbia.
What are the priorities of your support in Serbia?
― Supporting energy transition in Serbia and across the entire region is undeniably a top priority for the EU. This is an arena where the EU has already made substantial investments and provided support to Serbia. Under the EIP, we have intensified our commitment to energy security and sustainable transition, directing funds toward energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and the construction of the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor. The overarching aim is to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, facilitate improved integration of energy networks and diversify energy sources.
The WBIF, through which a segment of the Western Balkans Growth Plan will be channelled, lends its support to projects focused on transitioning to a low-carbon economy, aligning with the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. This includes promoting the increased utilisation of renewables, in alignment with the region’s plans for adapting to climate change.
Among the 13 flagship investments endorsed for Serbia under the EIP, seven projects are dedicated to advancing energy transition and environmental sustainability
Among the 13 flagship investments endorsed for Serbia under the EIP, seven projects are dedicated to advancing energy transition and environmental sustainability. These initiatives encompass activities like the reconstruction of the Vlasina Hydropower Plant, the construction of the Kostolac Wind Farm, the rehabilitation of the Bistrica Hydropower Plant, the introduction of smart meters to the electricity distribution system in Serbia and the enhancement of energy efficiency within the Technical Faculties Campus in Belgrade.
How important is the Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnector?
― When it comes to diversifying energy sources and supply routes, the EU financially supports the construction of the Serbian segment of the Serbia- Bulgaria gas interconnector with a grant of €49.6 million through the IPA scheme. This project holds immense significance for Serbia’s energy security, as it constitutes a crucial prerequisite for opening Serbia’s gas market to non-Russian sources. It is anticipated to become operational later this year. To aid Serbia in mitigating the impact of high energy prices on vulnerable households and businesses in the face of the energy crisis, we allocated an additional €165 million in support through last year’s Energy Support Package. Our overall commitment to Serbia’s energy sector has reached €1 billion in grants since 2000.