EU reports on aspirant nations' progress

The Vjosa flows through a wide valley

Threatened by hydropower plants: the Vjosa in Albania

© Romy Durst

Nature conservation way behind goals +++ demand for the protection of the salt flats of Ulcinj +++ no hydroelectric power stations in the Macedonian Mavrovo National Park!


Press release, 10 November 2015

Radolfzell. The EU Commission has published reports today on aspirant nations' progress towards EU accession. The commission registers the fact that there is still a considerable way to go, most particularly in the area of nature conservation.

The EU Commission stresses that the further development of hydroelectric power stations represents a crucial threat to the European natural heritage in the Balkans. Above all, in the reports on Albania, Macedonia and Serbia the commission highlights the dangers associated with this development. According to the EU Commission all candidates for accession are urgently required to take the needs of nature conservation into consideration in any investments in the extension of hydroelectric power.  Compliance has to be shown with the stipulations of the European Union on environmental compatibility, the EU water framework directive, the EU Birds directive and the Flora-Fauna-Habitat directive.

Specific concerns are named by the EU Commission as regards the two major hydroelectric power stations of Lukovo Pole and Boskov Most, which are planned for the Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia.  As part of their programme for the protection of Balkan rivers EuroNatur and Riverwatch are campaigning in particular for there to be a halt to the hydroelectric projects in the Mavrovo National Park.
“The progress reports of the EU Commission confirm our assessment that the expansion of hydroelectric power threatens the valuable natural heritage in the Balkans on a massive scale. Hydroelectric power plants in nature conservation areas counteract all efforts to protect nature. What is sorely lacking is any strategic cross-boundary planning. Before any further hydroelectric power plants are planned in the Balkans we demand the creation of a masterplan which specifically designates no-go-areas. Otherwise unique treasures of the European natural heritage are threatened with destruction” states EuroNatur executive director Gabriel Schwaderer, shortly after the publication of the reports.
In EuroNatur's view the planning of a hydroelectric power plant on the Vjosa in Albania is in particularly clear contradiction to EU environmental legislation. EuroNatur calls on Albania to refrain from pursuing these plans. The Vjosa ought rather to be protected as one of the last remaining wild rivers  by being accorded the status of a national park.

The EU Commission demands of Montenegro that the salt flats of Ulcinj  be placed under qualified protection as being one of the most important resting places for migrating birds on the Adriatic Flyway. In addition the salt works are to be managed in accordance with migratory bird protection. “The appeal from the European Commission is yet another reason for those responsible in Montenegro, given their public announcements, to follow words with actions at long last, and to prevent the saltworks from being already completely destroyed before there is any possibility of accession to the EU” says Gabriel Schwaderer. The government and parliament of Montenegro had already passed a resolution in 2012 that the Ulcinj salt flats should be placed under protection. This has, however, not been put into action to date. Instead, the current owner, Eurofond, is deliberately pursuing the gradual destruction of the saline. The ecologically valuable wetland is to be developed for mass tourism.

?Background information:

Enquiries: EuroNatur, Konstanzer Str. 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: 07732 - 92 72 10, Fax: 07732 - 92 72 22, E-Mail:, Internet:, Contact: Gabriel Schwaderer, Press contact: Katharina Grund


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