BiH Failed to Comply With the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive According to Energy Community

On 16 March 2018, the Energy Community Secretariat (“EC”) sent a Reasoned Opinion to Bosnia and Herzegovina for its failure to comply with the provisions of the Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (“EIA Directive”).

EC claims that the environmental impact assessment procedure for the  thermal power plant Ugljevik 3 in the Republika Srpska (part of BiH) is not complied with the relevant European acquis. Moreover, EC states that the permitting procedure failed to entirely map direct and indirect impacts of the projects, as well as its potential cross border impacts, as prescribed under the EIA Directive.

Previously, in July of last year, EC sent an Opening Letter to BiH, claiming that the entire assessment procedure was not carried in proper manner, compared to procedure prescribed under the EIA Directive. EC further indicated that the provisions of EIA Directive concerning public participation in the assessment process were not fulfilled properly. Competent Ministry in BiH provided two responses to this opening letter, both of them founded by EC as unsatisfactory, which led to issuance of the Reasoned Opinion.

This represents the second step in a dispute settlement procedure and, depending on the further actions and reply of the BiH, EC may initiate the case before the Ministerial Council, challenging BiH compliance with EC laws. According to applicable rules of procedure, BiH now has two months to provide the answers to Reasoned Opinion and try to provide more convincing evidences compared to procedure initiated upon the Opening Letter.

The Energy Community is an international organization established in 2005, aiming to extend the EU internal energy market to South East Europe and beyond on the basis of a legally binding framework, i.e. to accelerate the adoption of the EU’s legislation concerning energy and related areas in this region. Apart from Serbia, remaining contracting parties of the Energy Community are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, FYROM, Montenegro, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

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