Western Balkan 6 Initiative

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 implementing organisations 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.  It was the Secretariat's task 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.

  • Berlin process

    Berlin Process: setting the agenda

    With an aim to demonstrate 'its support for the prospect of European integration for the countries of the Western Balkans', the German Government initiated the Berlin Process in 2014. An idea for organization of the Conference of Western Balkan States came in light of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. The 2014 Berlin Summit spelled out a four year reform framework aiming to support the Western Balkan to meet the conditions for EU accession. In order to implement the agreed agenda, the countries decided to meet each year in the same format. This resulted in 2015 Vienna Summit, 2016 Paris Summit,  2017 Trieste Summit and the London Summit in 2018. The 2019 Poznań Western Balkan Summit underlines the will to further endure the Berlin Process. 

    Whilst the Berlin Declaration grouped the reform work under three titles, the agenda was broadened in the years come. A special focus set by chairmanship apart, 'connectivity agenda' has continued to be an integral part of the agendas.

    • Regional cooperation and the solution of bilateral disputes
    • Rule of Law and Good Governance
    • Economic Prosperity and Connectivity
    • Market integration – Trade Facilitation, Mobility and Joint Growth Initiatives
    • Migration and the fight against terrorism and radicalization
    • Youth, Education, Science and Research

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  • Regional electricity market

    Creating a 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 (MoU), 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. With their signatures, the EU stakeholders recognised 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. Stakeholders from all EU Member States that neighbour the WB6 countries joined the initiative by signing the Memorandum of Understanding.

    The Western Balkan countries committed to implement a priority list of so-called “energy soft measures”, at national and regional level, as key preconditions for the development of a truly integrated electricity market. The regional measures consist of

    • establishing spot markets (power exchanges),
    • a regional balancing market, and, 
    • making the best use of the already existing Coordinated Auction Office in Southeast Europe (SEE CAO) for regional capacity allocation.

    The national measures mainly focus on removing national obstacles to regional electricity market development by creating the appropriate market and regulatory framework.

    The Vienna WB6 Summit tasked the Energy Community Secretariat to lead the development of the regional energy market and assist in the implementation of the measures. 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 for the duration of 24 months supported the establishment and operation of a regional electricity market. 

    To document the progress made by the six Western Balkan countries, the Secretariat began to publish regular monitoring reports in November 2015.

  • The role of the Secretariat

    The role of the Secretariat

    Conducting technical assistance

    The Vienna WB6 Summit tasked the Energy Community Secretariat to lead the development of the regional energy market and assist in the implementation of the measures. The Paris Summit of 4 July 2016 reemphasised the need for closer cooperation on a regional level and integration of the markets of the Western Balkan 6 into the pan-European one. Concretely, a dedicated roadmap was agreed for the setting up of a regional market for electricity connecting the Western Balkans to the EU’s internal energy market. 

    To ensure that the process is backed up by the financial incentives needed to implement these targets, the European Commission and the Energy Community Secretariat concluded a two-year Grant Contract for technical assistance to connectivity in the Western Balkans in June 2016. The Grant Contract was implemented based on a CONNECTA Work Programme that identified the technical assistance services needed to support regional and national measures in those areas where insufficient progress was monitored and where financial support was expected to be efficiently delivered. It introduced concrete TA projects, their interrelationship with the implementation objectives, the conditions, the processes and procedures.

    In December 2019, the Secretariat held WB6 Closing event, marking the end of its TA project. 

     

     Monitoring the progress

    To document the progress made by the six Western Balkan countries, the Secretariat began to publish regular monitoring reports in November 2015. Documenting the progress measure by measure and benchmarking the country's performance with the previous reporting period resulted in clear-cut, easily comparable time-series of assessment. 

    Whilst the monitoring of the energy market soft measures remained an invariable constant, the scope and focus of the reporting has evolved over the years. At the beginning the reports entailed updates on the three PECI label electricity projects in the region. Later on topics such as value added tax regimes and public procurement rules were addressed. At the 2016 Western Balkan 6 Summit in Paris, the six Contracting Parties endorsed the Sustainability Charter to support them in the transition towards low-carbon and climate-resilient energy sectors. To grant greater weight for the initiative, the Secretariat coordinated the process and published separate monitoring reports outlining the achievements and challenges ahead with respect to the Sustainability Charter during 2017 and 2018.