IEA welcomes steps toward reform and integration in the Western Balkans and calls for strengthened institutions, policies and implementation


(Paris) — 26 June 2008

Energy in the Western Balkans: The Path to Reform and Reconstruction emphasises the need for public authorities across the region to press ahead with policies that can deliver sustainable, reliable and efficient energy sectors – and support economic and social development and recovery. This new publication, launched today by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in co-operation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), assesses the energy situation in the Western Balkan countries and the challenges linked to reform and reconstruction.

Energy systems in much of the Western Balkan region are fragile and in need of investment; conflicts over the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s left a legacy of damaged infrastructure, weak institutions and mutual mistrust. The 2005 Energy Community Treaty – a framework to which the entire region has subscribed – aims to create an integrated market for electricity and gas that is compatible with the European Union’s internal energy market.

“The overall choice of reform and integration is undoubtedly the right one for the Western Balkans,” commented IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka. “Building on the progress that has already been made, the task now is to ensure that the institutions, strategies and political support are in place to reach these goals throughout the region. This survey highlights the need to strengthen public energy administrations and market institutions, and maps out national and regional policies whose implementation can benefit the people, the economy and the environment in the Western Balkans.”

Energy in the Western Balkans: The Path to Reform and Reconstruction is a comprehensive review of energy policies in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. Alongside policy surveys of individual markets at different stages of development, it also includes analysis of cross-cutting themes such as energy co-operation and trade, the links between energy and poverty, and the region’s role in pan-European oil and gas transportation.

While circumstances differ considerably in individual markets, the study identifies some key challenges that are shared to a degree across the region:

“There are some encouraging signs of energy reform and reconstruction across the region,” concluded Mr Tanaka, “but also much work to be done to deliver efficient, modernised energy systems that can assist economic development, address energy poverty and reduce the environmental impacts of energy use.”

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