Đedović: The EU is helping Serbia to ensure a safe supply of energy

Belgrade (Tanjug) – Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Dubravka Đedović said that the EU was helping Serbia with grants and low-interest loans to ensure the secure supply and transport of energy products, as well as the diversification of gas supply. “Serbia has become part of the European energy market together with the countries of the region in 2006, long before it received the status of a candidate for EU membership,” said Đedović, speaking on the panel at the beginning of the “European Week of Opportunities”, organized by the EU Delegation in Serbia.

She said that the connected market reduced the risks of shortages and rising prices of energy products. “The crisis showed that the countries that were better connected to their neighbours through cross-border interconnections and in the gas and electricity sectors were less affected by energy price increases,” Đedović stated.

She added that Serbia was already well-connected, but that it was now working on even better connections with its neighbours. “Having better access to the gas and energy exchange market helps you reduce costs and risk. Our partners from the EU are helping us with financial aid,” said Đedović. The minister pointed out that with the help of EU funds, Serbia was currently building a gas interconnector with Bulgaria, and that with the completion of this project, the country would get an additional source of gas supply. “As last year’s crisis showed, EU countries are trying to diversify their sources, and we recognized that as well. With the completion of this project, the conditions will be created for us to have another source of gas supply,” Đedović pointed out.

She also emphasised that a power interconnector with Romania was under construction and that investments were being made in the electricity transmission system in Serbia, in order to ensure better conditions for the transport of electricity. She pointed out that at the Council for Strategic Cooperation with Hungary, there was talk of an additional connection via the Pannonian Corridor, which the EU also recognized as important.

Đedović added that these were strategic projects of great value, essential for ensuring energy security. “In cooperation with the EU, we want to work on the decarbonization of electricity production, and it is very important for us to carefully plan the transition to green energy, because we produce almost 60 percent of our electricity using coal,” concluded Đedović. (June 21)

WEF: Slovakia ranked 63rd in gender equality

Cologny (TASR) – Slovakia ranks 63rd in the Global Gender Gap report prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Compared to last year, the country has improved by four places.

In the survey on political equality between men and women, which examines the number of women in ministerial positions or in legislatures, Slovakia ranks 80th. The Slovak Republic improved its ranking on the issue of equal pay for equal work for men and women, jumping from 102nd to 86th place.

Iceland topped the list, followed by Norway, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden. Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia, Lithuania and Belgium ranked sixth to tenth.

Countries that have slipped in the gender equality rankings include Switzerland, from 13th to 21st, and Austria, from 21st to 47th. Austria’s fall was mainly due to the low number of women in ministerial positions.

The WEF notes that although gender equality has returned to pre-pandemic levels, overall progress in this area has slowed significantly. The WEF calculates that at the current rate, full gender equality in the world will take another 131 years to achieve. (21 June)

EU environment ministers find common position on Nature Restoration Law

Luxembourg (APA) – The EU Council of Environment Ministers reached a “general approach” on the EU’s controversial Nature Restoration Law in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

The European Commission’s proposal is intended to ensure more biodiversity. The law was of great importance, Austria’s Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler said after the agreement. She supported the objectives of the draft, but abstained from the vote. The reason she gave was the distribution of competences in nature conservation in Austria.

“This text is a solid basis for negotiations with the European Parliament,” said Romina Pourmokhtari, Swedish Minister for Climate and Environment and current representative of the Council Presidency. “Today is a good day for nature.”

“We must now try to get a majority in the European Parliament. This is not guaranteed, but it is possible,” stressed Frans Timmermans, European Commission Vice-President in charge of the Green Deal. He hoped that the law would be “finalised by the end of the year.” It was essential now, he said, was to talk about the content of the proposal, not simply to reject it. “We have to overcome party political differences. We must not create a left-right dynamic,” the Dutch Social Democrat said. He explained that “many of those who voted in favour today come from the EPP family,” the group representing the Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, which had so far been particularly critical of the Nature Restoration Law. “This goes beyond party political boundaries,” Timmermans said.

The proposal aims to introduce restoration measures covering at least 20 percent of the EU’s land and marine areas by 2030, and all ecosystems in need of “restoration” by 2050. The ministers made numerous changes to the original Commission proposal.

The goal of increased biodiversity had to be taken seriously, said Gewessler. The agreed proposal preserved the substance, but allowed for a more practicable implementation, she added. An extensive network of deadlines for the implementation and monitoring of the measures was taking that into account. “It is important that a broadly supported signal goes out from the Council today. I assume that the next step will be taken in Parliament next week,” Gewessler told journalists.

A large majority of 20 member states has agreed. According to Gewessler, the forthcoming Spanish Presidency is ready and wants to bring the dossier to a conclusion.

The “general approach” serves as a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the final shape of the legislation. Numerous EPP MEPs are demanding the EU Commission to submit a new proposal. The eagerly awaited vote in the Environment Committee had been postponed to 27 June after hours of tight wrangling over amendments. (June 20)

Brussels asks EU-27 for additional 66 billion for Ukraine, migration and clean technologies

Brussels (EFE) – The European Commission has asked member states for 65.8 billion euros in new national contributions to the EU budget to finance the bloc’s main “political priorities” until 2027, including continued support for Ukraine, migration management and investment in clean technology.

The main novelty of the review will be the 50-billion-euro package that Brussels is proposing to dedicate to continued support for Ukraine from 2024 until 2027. But the EU is also proposing to allocate 15 billion euros to strengthen the bloc’s migration policy, both internally and externally, through dialogue and agreements with third countries.

Brussels is also proposing the creation of the Strategic Technology Platform for Europe (STEP), endowed with 10 billion euros, with the aim of channelling investment into sectors such as clean technologies or biotechnology, in order to boost the bloc’s competitiveness in the face of the strength of other powers such as China or the United States. (20 June)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.