EU Energy Community Secretariat said on July 3 it has initiated a preliminary dispute settlement procedure against Kosovo for its failure to transpose and implement legislation related to emissions from large combustion plants.
Kosovo relies mostly on two old coal-fired plants, Kosova A and Kosova B, which are considered to be among the worst polluters in Europe. Both are located close to the capital Pristina, where air pollution was among the worst in the world last winter, with the levels of harmful particles in the air exceeding those in major industrial cities in China and India on some days. This sparked protests in Pristina, and a temporary ban on cars in the city centre was introduced.
The secretariat said in a statement on July 2 that Kosovo’s national environmental legislation to curb emissions into the air fails to comply with the obligations under the Energy Community Treaty.
This is because Kosovo did not fully transpose the limit values of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust for existing plants, it added.
The secretariat also considers that the rules for new plants have not been brought in line with the requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive.
The obligations under the Large Combustion Plants and Industrial Emissions Directives entered into force on January 1, with regard to existing and new plants.
Rules on the limitation of emissions into the air from large combustion plants are key to limiting air pollution, and it is expected that their implementation would result in major health and environmental benefits, the secretariat said.
Kosovo has over 14bn tonnes of lignite reserves, the fifth largest in the world.
The country plans to build a new coal fired plant, a €1bn project entrusted to US company ContourGlobal, which would replace the Kosova A power plant.
However, it is currently unclear how funding for the project will be secured, as the World Bank, which was expected to finance the project, is turning away from fossil fuel projects and increasing its emphasis on renewables.
The Western Balkans region as a whole is heavily dependent on coal fired power plants. Numerous new projects are either under construction or at the planning stage, and most are being financed by Chinese state controlled banks.