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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Montenegro’s environmental alignment: Navigating hydropower challenges

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The EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičijus, emphasized Montenegro’s expected gradual alignment with EU environmental legislation as it pursues EU membership. This alignment includes adherence to EU directives on nature conservation, such as the Birds and Habitats Directives.

Sinkevičijus’s remarks came in response to a query from Bas Eickhout, a member of the European Green Party in the European Parliament, regarding the impact of hydropower plant construction on biodiversity in Montenegro and the country’s implementation of relevant EU directives.

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According to Sinkevičijus, the European Commission has received information about the potential environmental impact of a proposed dam in the Komarnica valley through a study conducted by the European Biodiversity Research. He noted that an appeal to the Bern Convention regarding the dam’s impact on Komarnica’s candidacy for the Emerald site is currently under review. The Commissioner stressed that Montenegro’s investments in hydropower must align with EU environmental laws, as well as national and international nature conservation obligations, ensuring public participation, consultations, and robust environmental impact assessments, including consideration of cumulative impacts on nature and biodiversity.

Sinkevičijus underscored the Commission’s commitment to environmental issues in the context of accession negotiations, pledging continued engagement with Montenegro’s authorities to ensure proper alignment with EU nature protection legislation.

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He also mentioned discussions within the Subcommittee on Transport, Energy, Environment, Climate Change, and Regional Policy, as part of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Montenegro.

Regarding the Komarnica hydropower project, environmental organizations in Montenegro lodged a complaint with the Bern Convention Secretariat for Biodiversity Protection, citing concerns about inadequate environmental practices and the prioritization of societal development over environmental conservation and future generations’ well-being.

Komarnica is designated as a natural monument and a nature park, situated between the Durmitor and Vojnik mountains, and the river is a tributary of the Piva River within the Black Sea basin.

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