The letter asks EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Stefan Fule to put pressure on the Azeri authorities and support and protect civil society that faces an escalating suppression. Last week more than 20 NGOs were confronted with sanctions that included freezing bank accounts and seizing personal accounts of NGO executives and others. This is a continuation of the government’s on-going harassment campaign against human rights defenders that uses tactics like police summons, arrests, propaganda, and slandering and threating organisations with closure.
The EBRD should stick to its newly approved Energy Strategy and reject any investments in the Serbian coal sector, argue a group of 7 international NGOs in a letter sent to the bank’s board of directors today. The groups were concerned with recent statements by the EBRD according to which the bank’s regional flood response in the Balkans could include “rehabilitation of (…) damaged power stations and transmission and distribution networks.”
This letter, co-signed by Serbian, regional and international NGOs and sent to the Board of Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ask whether in the aftermath of the recent floods in the western Balkans, the EBRD's response will prop up Serbia's coal sector or whether it will ensure that its post-flood assistance is used for much needed residential energy efficiency improvements and sustainable renewable energy.
A new report by the Belgrade-based NGO CRTA shows that the Serbian government is supporting the Kostolac coal power plant and mines with loan guarantees and potentially VAT exemptions. Propping up the already dominant coal sector, however, will likely further increase Serbia’s vulnerability to extreme weather events. Increasing Serbia's energy efficiency and renewables generation would be the wiser choice.
Energy is one of the biggest economic sectors in south-eastern Europe and is set to grow even further with the region moving closer to the EU. The region has high potential for energy efficiency and sustainable renewable energy investments. Yet, as this study illustrates with a number of examples, countries have shown little ability to absorb investments at a large scale without systemic corruption and patronage.
The EU’s plans to import gas via gas pipelines or liquefied natural gas (LNG) are not only contrary to its long-term climate objectives but also unjustified in the context of the European Commission's predictions in terms of energy demand.