It was on 21st January 2020 that the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted its negotiating position for EU Accession Negotiation Chapter 27, which deals with the environment and climate change, together with 14 accompanying documents. And that document was officially submitted to the Council of the EU one week later.
The documents supporting Serbia’s negotiating position represent specific plans for the implementation of EU directives in the fields of water and waste management and the area of industrial pollution. They also contain estimates of the costs accompanying the implementation of the directives, as well as a proposal for available additional sources of funding and a preliminary proposal for required transition periods.
Alongside specific plans for the implementation of directives, the negotiating position also contains a multi-annual investment and financial plan for the implementation of projects in the field of the environment. It additionally contains an action plan for the development of administration in the field of the environment, which determines administrative capacities at the national, provincial and local levels and highlights employment requirements in this area. It also contains an explanation for biogeographical regions and technical adaptations to the annexes of Directives on habitats and birds.
On the basis of Serbia’s submitted negotiating position, the European Commission drafted the Common Position for Chapter 27, which it presented to European Union member states on 24th November 2020, within the scope of the COELA process.
Following the submission of the negotiating position, Negotiating Group 27 established a system to monitor the progress of transposing and implementing the regulations presented in the negotiating position. This enabled the identifying of the legislative acts that it is necessary to adopt in order for the transposition to be complete, and the current status of those acts. An action plan was also developed for the implementation of each regulation provided in the negotiating position, as well as a detailed explanation of their status and planned future steps.
WORK UNDERWAY ON AIR PROTECTION PROGRAMME
With the support of the IPA 2014 project, work is underway on the development of the Air Protection Programme with an associated action plan, the preparing of eight specific implementation plans (DSIPOV) for six directives and two regulations, five of which relate to the air protection sector, one to the INSPIRE directive and two specific implementation plans for regulations in the field of chemicals management. With the support of this project, the multi-year investment and financial plan will be upgraded in accordance with the new financial data from the planning documents under preparation.
Given that the COELA process has begun, Negotiating Group 27 is expected to prepare information in the coming period on questions to be submitted to them by the European Commission, which relate to the negotiating position for Chapter 27, but also an intensive period of transposing and implementing EU regulations.
With the support of the IPA 2014 project, work is underway on the development of the Air Protection Programme with an associated action plan, the preparing of eight specific implementation plans (DSIPOV) for six directives and two regulations, five of which relate to the air protection sector, one to the INSPIRE directive and two specific implementation plans for regulations in the field of chemicals management
According to the EU’s new methodology, Chapter 27 will be classified in Cluster 4 – the Green Agenda and sustainable connectivity, together with Chapters 14, 15 and 21.
In anticipation of clear instructions on how the new methodology will influence the future process of negotiation in each of the chapters, and based on the recommendations provided in the European Commission’s Annual Progress Report, investment determinants in the Western Balkans economic and investment plan and the Sofia Declaration on the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, Chapter 27 will determine priority activities in the period ahead, in order for progress to be made within the framework of this negotiating chapter.
The Declaration on the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans was adopted by the economies of the Western Balkans at the Sofia Summit of 10th November 2020. Considering that the drafting of an action plan is expected in the period ahead, in order to enable the Regional Cooperation Council and the European Commission to implement the Declaration, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has prepared an analysis of the goals contained in the Green Agenda, in order for Serbia to be fully prepared to contribute to that document in an adequate way.
COOPERATION WITH DONORS
Cooperating with donors on the process of harmonising standards in the environmental sector with those of Europe is very important and key to everything that has been achieved in the previous period, but also for the challenges that await us. Alongside the European Union, as one of the key donors, a significant role in this process is also played by the Government of the Kingdom of Sweden, which has directed its assistance to the environmental sector through several projects. Two of these are crucial and provide the basis and foundation for the negotiation process and the application of defined measures to meet specific requirements and standards in the advancing of environmental protection.
The project “Preparations for negotiations in the process of the accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union, in the field of environmental protection 3” (Environment Accession Project 3; ENVAP 3), which is being financed by the Government of the Kingdom of Sweden, responds to the challenges confronting Serbia’s EU accession in the domain of environmental protection. The aim is to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry in the area of managing EU accession processes and to prepare effectively for, and participate in, EU accession negotiations under the framework of Chapter 27.
The second project that’s being financed the Swedish Government, “Environmental Infrastructure Support Programme, Phase 2” (EISP 2), aims to help and support the efforts of the Ministry in improving sub-sectoral policy, as well as its implementation via investment projects. The goal is to support the Ministry in developing the national policy, financial framework and its own capacities to manage and direct work on the list of priority projects and, of course, to do so in accordance with the national strategies and rules governing the use of EU funds. This project also endeavours to define Chapter 27’s short-, medium- and long-term processes for financing and investing, which will result in the development of a list of priority projects. That list will be updated to represent the real situation on the ground and changes to national planning and negotiations.
Other projects funded by Sweden support the individual sectors assessed as being the most challenging, such as industrial pollution and issues related to the management of chemicals.