Balkan Addiction to Coal Worries Poznan Summit Panel

There will be no backtracking on environmental standards in the EU integration process of Western Balkan countries, Johannes Hahn, outgoing Enlargement Commissioner, warned on Thursday, speaking to a panel about the environment held during the West Balkans Summit in Poznan.

"We are talking about a process and not simply negotiations, so if they [Balkan countries] are not fulfilling the conditions, we cannot close the [accession] chapter and cannot move further," he said.

"We cannot really enforce that things are done, we only can enforce that the chapter is not closed if this chapter is not closed, others are not closed and [then] there is no progress in the whole [accession] process," he added.

Hahn was addressing the panel called "Better environment for better living", moderated by Jeta Xharra, Director of BIRN Kosovo, whose participants mostly talked about the problems with coal power plants in West Balkan countries - not only the existing ones but others that are being built or are planned to be built.

"We have to make green investments more attractive and with lower interests," Natasa Kovacevic, from the NGO Green Home, from Montenegro, told the panel.

She warned that if this is not done, green investments will merely be replaced by less environmentally friendly Chinese investments that are rising in number.

Hahn said some countries in the region found it relatively easy to find non-EU funds for coal power investment, mainly because the EU has strict standards about the environment but also requires transparency and the rule of law.

Srdjan Kukolj, from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), a European non-profit organization, said decision-makers need to pay more attention to the health problems caused by coal...

Continue reading on: