Von der Leyen: In order to make progress, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to act unitedly

Sarajevo (FENA) – The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, paid an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The visit was part of a four-day trip to North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and BiH.

During her visit to BiH, von der Leyen presented the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans as well as the region’s roadmap towards the European Union.

After the meeting with the chairwoman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Borjana Krišto, von der Leyen stated that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina was in the European Union, as a single, united, sovereign country.

”My first message is to underline that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the European Union and I want to emphasize how much we want BiH to be a full member of the EU. I emphasize how strong our support is on your European journey. You showed us through the formation of the government last year and everything that was done in the first year after the elections, all of that shows that this country can achieve results, and I think that’s positive,” said von der Leyen. Her second message was that “we must work on bringing our economies together.”

”This arrival today is an opportunity to present the new Growth Plan of the European Union for the countries of the region. This is important for all of us in BiH, and I think that we should all use the opportunity both in the region and in BiH to make a significant step forward based on this Growth Plan that is provided to us in the field of ensuring quality conditions for the life of all residents of BiH in all segments of life – from road infrastructure and energy to freedom of movement of goods and services,” Krišto said.

She added that this visit “represents an opportunity to get to know more about the new Growth Plan, that is, with the new decision that the European Union has made, which is a financial decision to provide six billion euros in aid to the countries of the region.” She stated that 2 billion came as grants, and 4 billion through various types of loans.

Krišto also said that the three key reform laws, which were important and crucial for fulfilling the priorities set before BiH by the European Commission, were almost finished. Von der Leyen said that solving all 14 key priorities, especially the parts that concerned the rule of law, more specifically the law on courts and conflict of interest, was extremely important. She also explained that all countries in the region would have access to financial aid, noting the importance of implementing reforms.

The EC president ended her visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina with a ceremony of handing over new apartments to 27 families in Vogošća, who are beneficiaries of the Regional Housing Program, which is mostly (80 percent) financed by the EU. (1 November)

Stop dreaming of a 2030 coal phase-out, German finance minister says

Berlin (dpa) – German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has questioned Germany’s ability to phase out coal as an energy source by 2030, a goal outlined in the government’s coalition deal two years ago. “As long as it is not clear that energy is available and affordable, we should stop dreaming of a coal phase-out by 2030,” the minister told the newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger in an interview published late on Tuesday.

In their coalition agreement, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz‘s Social Democrats, the Greens and Lindner’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) had agreed to “ideally” bring forward the country’s coal phase-out from 2038 to 2030.

“The climate will not profit from sticking to this date anyway, since the CO2 emissions saved in Germany may be additionally generated in Poland, for example, due to European rules,” said Lindner. He was referring to the European Union emissions trading scheme, which aims to limit emissions in EU member states and allows for the trade in CO2 certificates.

The environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Germany, on the other hand, considers the 2030 deadline indispensable for Germany achieving its climate goals. “The CO2 certificates thus released in Germany must be cancelled so that the emissions do not occur elsewhere in Europe either. Wrong information does not become right just because it is persistently repeated,” the head of the organisation, Olaf Bandt, said on Wednesday.

The 2030 coal phase-out had long been on its way, he said. “Soon, coal-fired electricity will no longer be needed, due to the enormous market dynamics of renewable energies.”

Lindner’s statement was also criticised by his coalition partner SPD.

“The word ‘ideally’ is in the coalition agreement for a reason. The goal is not to discuss the date, but the measures we need now to quickly expand renewable energies,” SPD parliamentary group vice-chairman Matthias Miersch told German daily Rheinische Post.

Lindner wants Germany to rely more heavily on domestically sourced natural gas. “Domestic gas production must be intensified,” he said, and added that the expansion of renewable energies had to be made possible more quickly.

Asked whether Germany needed new gas-fired power plants as a backup option, Lindner said that “it will come down to that, but the question is how to do it efficiently enough in a market economy, so that electricity prices don’t rise further.”

For the western German coal region of North Rhine Westphalia, the end-date of 2030 has already been set. However, no such agreement has been reached for the coal fields in the eastern regions of Lusatia and Saxony. (1 November)

Croatia is getting closer to the OECD after full integration into the EU

Paris (HINA) – After a meeting with the Secretary General and the OECD Council in Paris on Monday, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that he hoped Croatia would join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2026, enabling Zagreb to achieve its last strategic goal. Croatian Ministers of Foreign Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman and Finance Minister Marko Primorac also attended the meeting.

According to Plenković, the technical process should be completed by the end of 2025, with the ambition of achieving membership in 2026. Together with Croatia, he said, Bulgaria, Romania, Brazil, Argentina and Peru wanted to realize this goal.

The general secretary of the organisation, Mathias Cormann, said that Croatia did not have an entry date yet, but that he expected Zagreb to complete the technical part by the end of 2025.

Plenković told the OECD Council that joining that organisation, after joining the EU, the Eurozone and Schengen, was the Croatia’s “ultimate strategic goal.”

The OECD was created in 1960 as part of the Marshall Plan with the aim of stimulating economic development, and has 38 members today. Most of the countries of the European Union are members of the OECD, with the exception of Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania.

The OECD is an elite club that mainly consists of the richest countries in the world. Its program is to increase economic growth and the standard of living of the member countries, contribute to the development of the whole world and expand international trade. The OECD is the last important international institution of which Croatia has not yet become a member. (30 October)

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.