Final Conference Held: Towards the European Union and Healthy Environment

23 October 2017.
Final Conference Held: Towards the European Union and Healthy Environment

President of the State Audit Institution and Auditor General, Mr. Radoslav Sretenovic, participated in the final conference today, titled "Towards the European Union and Healthy Environment: What are the conditions for eco-financing in local communities", held in Belgrade. Research on this topic was presented on the Conference, which the Center for European Policy (CEP) implemented with the Ecological Center Staniste, within CSOnnect Institutional Grant.

The conference was moderated by Srdjan Majstorovic, Chairman of the CEP Governing Board, and the participants were addressed by Joachim Waern, Deputy Ambassador of Sweden, Goran Trivan, Minister of Environmental Protection, Sem Fabrizi, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Tanja Miscević, Head of the Negotiating Team for the Accession of Serbia to the EU and Ruza Radovic, Country Office Director of the Regional Environmental Center (REC) in Serbia.

President of SAI, Radoslav Sretenović, gave support to this significant topic and said that the State Audit institution may contribute to activities in the area of environmental protection through conduct of financial statement audit, compliance audit and performance audit. He added that during financial statements and compliance audit, conducted at certain local authorities' budget users, it was determined that there were various problems and deficiencies regarding charge for environmental protection and improvement. "State Audit Institution issued recommendation, in line with its competences, for regulating charge for environmental protection and improvement uniformly, and/or recommendation to harmonize Budget System Law and Law on Environmental Protection in this regard", Mr. Sretenovic said. He added that from the standpoint of the Negotiating Chapter 27 and its Strategic Plan, SAI plans to support improvement of environment in future also through conducting performance auditing on efficient, economical and effective financing and spending of funds for environmental protection.

Goran Trivan, Minister for Environmental Protection in Serbia, said that Serbia currently allocates only 0,25 to 0,5% of its GDP for ecology, and that it should allocate 10 times more for that purpose. He added that we should be aware that order in this area had to be introduced, but that "EU will certainly make pressure on us. If we do not care about environment, we are not on a good path. EU could assist us, but if we do not participate in project financing ourselves, nobody will give us a dime", Minister emphasized and added that "if whole society does not support this agenda, with strong contribution of OCD, there will be no results in this area. This is not a political issue - green color must be above all colors", Mr. Trivan concluded.

Tanja Miscevic, Head of the Negotiating Team for Accession of The Republic of Serbia to the EU, said that Chapter 27 is one of the reasons we can use why Serbia needs European integrations. "From Chapter 27, one can see clearer and better than from any other Chapter what benefits Serbia will have from EU accession process", Miscevic said. She informed participants in the event that Serbia had completed half of obligations from this Chapter, and that Serbia would send the first draft to the European Commission for consultations in the first half of 2018.

Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Mr. Sem Fabrizi, said that it was important to include local self-governments into decision making process and that they need to have larger responsibilities.Fabrizi commended Serbia saying that it made progress in ecology, above all, through re-launching of Green Fund, and he expressed expectation that Chapter 27 will soon be open. How important this area is for EU, Ambassador said, shows the fact that EU earmarked 360 million euros for this area to Serbia.

Joachim Waern, Deputy Ambassador of Sweden to Serbia, said that investment in environmental protection is a long-term investment, and accordingly, although it costs a lot at first, in the long run it will have multiple benefits.

Research on the topic of environmental protection was carried out under the institutional grant of the CSOnnect civil society support program in the field of environmental protection.The consortium (Ecological Center Staniste, Ecological Movement of Odzak, Local Ecological Movement from Smederevo and Business and Economy Center) led by the Center for European Policy is the beneficiary of this grant.The CSOnnect program is implemented by the Regional Environmental Center (REC) and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).