Launched in 2014, the Western Balkan 6 Initiative (also known as the Berlin Process) aims to support the six Contracting Parties of the Energy Community in Southeast Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in strengthening regional cooperation and driving sustainable growth and jobs.
Under the auspices of the Grant Contract “TA to Connectivity in the Western Balkans - Component 2: Regional Energy Market” between the European Commission and the Energy Community Secretariat, the Secretariat was defined as one of the main implementing organisation of the ‘WB6’ initiative. The overall objective of the 24 months technical assistance project, CONNECTA, was to assist the Western Balkan governments to achieve their goal of a regional energy market. The Secretariat was to facilitate the implementation of so-called “soft measures” that will remove existing legislative and regulatory barriers and enhance the institutional structures necessary for the functioning of this market in line with the Energy Community Treaty and relevant EU acquis.
Regional electricity market
Regional electricity market
At the 2015 Vienna Summit of the Western Balkan 6 Initiative, the WB6 Contracting Parties reasserted their commitment towards establishing a regional electricity market. They agreed to implement so-called “energy soft measures” that will remove existing legislative and regulatory barriers and enhance the institutional structures necessary for the functioning of this market in line with the Energy Community Treaty and relevant EU acquis. The 2016 Paris Summit re-emphasized the need for a closer cooperation on a regional level and integration of the markets of the Western Balkan 6 into the pan-European one.
In April 2016, this commitment was given a solid operating framework with the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding, by the representatives of the WB6 countries. The MoU sets out the general principles of cooperation as well as concrete actions to develop the regional electricity market. The importance of the initiative in terms of driving regional day-ahead market coupling between the Energy Community Contracting Parties and neighbouring EU Member States has been recognised by EU stakeholders. Stakeholders from all EU Member States that neighbour the WB6 countries have joined the initiative by signing the Memorandum of Understanding.
The process was further strengthened by the conclusion of a Grant Contract between the European Commission and the Energy Community Secretariat for provision of technical assistance to support the development of a regional energy market in the Western Balkans in June 2016. The concrete project activities as set out in the CONNECTA work programme supported the establishment and operation of a regional electricity market. The technical assistance project, CONNECTA, was set to have the duration of 24 months.
To reach this goal, the WB6 energy connectivity initiative aims at spot market development, by establishing an organised day-ahead market in each Western Balkan country and their market coupling; cross-border balancing; regional capacity allocation; introduction of a coordinated capacity calculation process for the allocation of day-ahead capacities through the establishment of a regionally coordinated calculator; and cross-cutting measures of a horizontal dimension.
The WB6 tasked the Energy Community Secretariat to lead the development of the regional energy market and assist in the implementation of the measures. The Secretariat publishes regular monitoring reports on the progress made by the six Western Balkan countries.
The Energy Community Secretariat supports the implementation of the WB6 initiative in the area of investments in two key ways:
- facilitation of infrastructure financing through the Secretariat’s work with the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) for technical assistance and investment grants; and,
- supporting the dialogue between project promoters in cross-border infrastructure to ensure smooth project implementation.
Sustainable energy sectors
Sustainable energy sectors
Under the Energy Community Treaty, the WB6 countries are applying the Energy Efficiency Directives (2012/27/EU, 2010/30/EU, 2010/31/EU) as well as the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) with a similar level of ambition and the same binding effect as Member States of the EU. The WB6 countries are also working on the best way for improving their systems for monitoring, reporting and planning their energy and climate policies and aligning them with the Emissions Monitoring Regulation (Regulation (EU) 525/2013).
At the 2016 Western Balkan 6 Summit in Paris, the WB6 Contracting Parties endorsed a Sustainability Charter to support them in the transition towards low-carbon and climate-resilient energy sectors. The Sustainability Charter has three main priority areas: improving the governance for energy efficiency; implementing smart support measures that improve the sustainability of energy systems; and fostering climate action and transparency of sustainable energy markets.
As tasked under the WB6 process, the Secretariat coordinated the process and published regular monitoring reports outlining the achievements and challenges ahead with respect to the Sustainability Charter 2017-2018.