By Adnan Prekić – Podgorica
Apart from the chapters on the rule of Law, and the struggle against the corruption and organized crime, one of the most difficult chapters in Montenegro negotiations with European Union will certainly be Environmental Protection. The European Union requirements in the area of environmental protection are contained in Chapter 27, and Montenegro is currently not prepared to begin talks with Brussels in this issue.
Apart from the general obligation of Environmental Protection and waste management services, the most important job of Montenegro will be sanitizing four black ecological black issues of the country. These are: the Aluminum Factory, the Pljevlja Thermal Power Plant, the shipyard “Bijela” and the tailing pond “Gradac” near Pljevalja. At these four black ecological issues one problem is the disposal waste material resulting from production industrial plants. Waste landfill was not being environmentally protected and there is a risk in pouring all the toxic waste into the groundwater. Waste generated in the shipyard “Bijela” could be a possible source of pollution of the marine fauna.
In order to deal with these issues, the government of Montenegro, was granted a €50 million loan from the World Bank. This loan will be used to deal with all ecological black issues as well as the resolution of the issues of the treatment of hazardous wastes on a national level.
The most difficult situation is in Pljevlje, the industrial center in northern Montenegro. That town has two major ecological issues. This city is sited in many environmental research as being one of the most polluted in Europe. Thus, in the past few days, the town’s surrounding and downtown were covered with dust from the landfill thermal power plant. Ecologists from England and America, who have recently visited Pljevlja have been surprised by what they saw. “As opposed to all environmental standards, these people live right next to the place where the ashes are disposed of. This is toxic waste and these images remind me of what we can see in China where people pay the price of economic growth through the construction of energy facilities,” said Ray Edward from the american environmental organization, “Friends of the Earth.”
According to official data, in 2011, Montenegro has generated 6,576 tons of hazardous industrial waste. Screenings of some non-governmental organizations indicate that this number is much higher. Due to situations such as these, the European Commission recommended that the montenegrin chapter of Environmental Protection will open only when it meets certain requirements.
The director of the Directorate for the Environment, Daliborka Pejovic, assessed that Montenegro is faced with big challenges in Chapter 27. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the countries which joined the European Union, but still pay penalties of outstanding liabilities. This is shown in the example of Croatia and Slovenia. Croatia has several times asked for the postponement of deadlines because it did not meet the minimal requirements. Slovenia’s environmental negotiations began in 2006 and ended in 2010. The biggest challenge in this country was the waste management. EU directives have not been met and Slovenia requested the change of the deadline until the end of 2018.
In order for Montenegro to open negotiations for chapter 27, it needs to adopt a comprehensive national strategy. This strategy should come up with an action plan for the transposition, implementation and enforcement of the EU standards.