The environment and the economy: Serbia's accession to the European Union.

AuthorBlack, Laura J.

    "The future of the environment depends on improving cooperation and sharing information to capture potential efficiencies and create synergy during the process." (1) In 2012, Serbia officially became a candidate for membership in the European Union. (2) Before achieving membership, Serbia must complete the demanding task of aligning its national legislation with that of the European Union. (3)

    The Acquis Communautaire (the Acquis) is the accumulated body of E.U. legislation that binds all Member States to the European Union and with which all applicant countries must harmonize nationally before joining the European Union. (4) Approximating E.U. legislation is extremely complicated and it takes several years for candidate Member States to fully implement the Acquis into their national legislation. (5) Arguably one of the most difficult chapters that Serbia, and all candidate Member States, must implement is the Acquis on environmental protection. (6) Candidate countries trying to accede are faced with three fundamental problems: institutional challenges; lack of funding; and cultural resistance. (7)

    This Note will assess the economic impacts that Serbia will incur as a result of approximating the Environmental Acquis. (8) Part II will discuss the history and development of the environment regulations in the European Union and in Serbia. (9) Part III will describe the current state of environmental legislation for these respective political entities. (10) Part IV will analyze the impacts on Serbia as a result of economic and environmental changes. (11) The analysis will also draw a comparison to the economic impact of Croatia during its accession to the European Union because of its close regional ties. (12) Finally, Part V will conclude that cooperation and united efforts are the future of environmental protection. (13)


    1. The European Union

      The European Union was originally founded in the (1950) s as a semi-federal superpower for the purpose of integrating Europe's coal and steel industries. (14) When the founding Member States pooled portions of their sovereignty to create one shared institution, they all gained the benefits associated with size and strength. (15) To facilitate the desire for democracy, the founding members based the European Union on the rule of law. (16) Operating under this system requires drafting a treaty and outlining its objective as it aligns with the objectives of the European Union. (17) All existing Members must then voluntarily approve the treaty before it takes effect. (18)

      1. Acquis Communautaire and the Environmental Acquis

      The Acquis is the formation of all rules, laws, and obligations of the European Union to date. (19) The concept of the Acquis developed from accession negotiations between the European Union and Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and the United Kingdom between 1969-1972. (20) This body of cumulated laws and obligations is binding upon all existing Member States. (21) Before accession can be granted, candidate Member States must comply with all existing obligations of the Acquis, as well as implement strategies to foster future compliance with new elements as they are added. (22) To manage complying with the enormous amounts of material, the Acquis is divided into chapters according to policy areas. (23) Total compliance as a condition to accession ensures that the joining countries are willing to meet and capable of meeting the standards that the European Union established. (24) To this end, the institution as a whole maintains a strong market economy and political stability. (25)

      The Environmental Acquis embodies all European law involving the environment. (26) Protection and preservation of the environment has been an agenda item for the European Union since the early 1970s. (27) In 1993, the Treaty of Maastricht finally gave environmental policy legal status. (28) Sixteen years later, the Treaty of Lisbon set out the objectives of the policy. (29) It also charged Member States with the responsibility of enforcing the policy nationally in conjunction with the European Union. (30) Environmental policy is a topic of growing importance as its legislation grows increasingly more complex. (31) It is so important that a delay in the harmonizing and enforcing process of the Environmental Acquis could delay an Applicant State's membership in the European Union. (32)

    2. Serbia

      The European Commission recommended E.U. candidate status to Serbia in March 2012. (33) After a few years of delays due to unsettled issues remaining from Balkans War, accession negotiations with Serbia were finally opened in June 2013. (34) A Stabilization and Association Agreement between the European Union and Serbia formally took force in 2013. (35) Conferences between the Serbian government and the European Council began in January 2014. (36)

      1. Environmental Policy

        Serbia's modern environmental priorities originated after World War II during the Communist government period. (37) The general attitude, however, was to care for the environment to the extent that it served human prosperity. (38) Nature, therefore, was only valuable because of its contribution to the economy. (39) The Serbian Constitution, ratified in 1990, illustrates a transformation toward concern for the environment. (40) The Constitution outlines the environmental policy and its underlying principles, as they exist today. (41) Approximately 300 pages, the Constitution codifies the ideal that "every citizen has the right to live in a healthy environment." (42) This ideal is in conjunction with a duty to protect the health of the environment for all people's enjoyment. (43)

      2. Steps Toward Accession

        Despite these transforming beliefs and models, Serbia has a long journey before meeting European standards required for E.U. accession. (44) As a first step in addressing these problems, Serbia created the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in 2004. (45) A branch under the Ministry of Environment, Mining, and Spatial Planning (MEMSP), it was founded as a specific organization to manage, collect, and organize data. (46) SEPA then integrates all the data and produces an annual report assessing the current situation and giving recommendations for further development. (47) The agency's duties and objectives have evolved as the country makes steps to align its policies with European standards. (48)

  3. FACTS

    1. Enlargement

      E.U. membership is highly sought after because of the potential for prosperity and the promotion of freedom and democracy. (49) Membership is open to all democratic countries of Europe. (50) Any country looking to apply must comply with the democratic values of the European Union and be dedicated to promoting them. (51) The process of inducting new Member States into the European Union is known as "Enlargement." (52) E.U. leaders defined the procedures and conditions for Enlargement in 1993 at the Copenhagen Summit. (53) The Copenhagen criteria include three elements: political stability, economic security, and general ability to handle membership obligations. (54) A candidate Member State's ability to meet these criteria defines its eligibility for E.U. accession. (55)

      As a democratic institution, all existing Member States must unanimously consent to admitting a new Member State. (56) When a European country applies for membership, the Council, representing Member States' governments, decides when to accept the application for membership, when to grant candidate status, and whether to open accession negotiations. (57) Accession negotiations begin with a screening of the Candidate State's current legislation. (58) A report produced from the screening identifies which areas of the applying country's legislation need to be adjusted in order to meet the requirements of every chapter of the Acquis. (59) When the accession negotiations are complete, the existing members and the Candidate State draft, sign, and ratify an accession treaty to formalize the induction. (60)

    2. Chapter 27: Directives and Agencies

      Chapter 27 of the Acquis covers environmental policy, divided into eight categories. (61) The contents of this Chapter are extensive and include both horizontal and legal issues. (62) The Environment Directorate-General ("DG Environment") manages the legal acts found in Chapter 27, as all States seeking membership to the European Union must bear them. (63) The Applicant State designates an executive agency to establish and implement a strategy for complying with the required directives. (64) Complying with and integrating these myriad and diverse topics puts a heavy burden on acceding Member States. (65) Although it is a timely and expensive commitment, the benefits of increased environment standards affect health, the economy, and agriculture. (66)

      1. Chapter 27: Directives

        Chapter 27 consists of regulations and directives with which Candidate States must abide in order to guarantee harmonization. (67) Directives are stated goals that all E.U. Member States are required to achieve by a specified date. (68) Directives, though binding, allow each State the flexibility of deciding how it will meet the prescribed objective. (69) Some of the most costly directives in Chapter 27 pertain to pollution, water, and wastewater management; and solid waste management. (70) If a European country wants to join the European Union, it will be required to comply with the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, the Industrial Emissions Directive, the Water Framework Directive, and the Waste Management Directive. (71)

        The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive regulates the most significant environmental polluters, including heavy industry, large farming complexes, and waste management facilities. (72) IPPC requires industrial and agricultural polluters to obtain an environmental permit as a means of controlling pollution emissions in Europe. (73)...

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