EU funds could do a whole lot more to help the transformation to an efficient sustainable energy system in Croatia if the country adopts an effective strategy to get there, argues our research co-ordinator, Pippa Gallop.
As part of its new EUR 200 million loan to the Serbian electricity company EPS, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development aims to assist with “identifying opportunities to improve environmental, safety, social, and labour governance and capacity, and on helping EPS to develop a more strategic approach to managing these issues”. As outlined in this briefing, so far the EBRD's fifteen-year partnership with EPS has not brought visible improvements in company practices and it is high time for the bank to prove that its engagement can add value.
When Maroš Šefčovič, the Commission's Vice President for the Energy Union visited Bucharest in October 2015 to discuss Romania’s role in the overhaul of Europe's energy sector, his speech seemed promising at first. It focused on renewables, energy efficiency and research and innovation – all issues that are rarely on the Romanian public agenda. But eventually, much like the Commission's assessment for Romania (pdf) that was presented during the visit, the message and its level of ambition felt more like much ado about nothing.
No-one will 'freeze to death' if the planned lignite-fired power plant in Kosovo does not receive support from multilateral development banks, but if it does, low-income households may well end up choosing between electricity and food. How can an institution, whose very mission is to end poverty, justify this project?
The latest blow to the highly controversial 68 megawatt Boškov Most hydropower plant, that has attracted EUR 65 million in financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), was dealt in early December by the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, the European wildlife treaty.
A new Bankwatch report has found that loans totalling EUR 818 million from international public ‘development’ banks have supported 75 hydropower projects in the Balkans, including 30 which directly affect protected areas such as national parks, Natura 2000 sites and Ramsar sites.
CEKOR had a meeting with the EBRD Director for Serbia, Daniel Berg, at which the Report on EBRD Complaint Mechanism was considered. In accordance with the undertaken contractual obligations, the EPS should enhance its procedures not only for the case of Vreoci, to which the complaint referred, but also at all locations where it performs business operations.
In light of the worrying findings of a study on hydropower projects in southeast Europe - most notably the high number of projects in protected areas - this letter asks the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to better implement its environmental and social policy and hydropower sustainability criteria, establish no-go zones in protected areas and rivers of outstanding quality, and disclose project information about projects with a clear environmental impact which are financed through financial intermediaries.