EU’s carbon levy poses new test for Western Balkan integration

(EurActiv, 6 Feb 2023) The European Union’s newly agreed carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) will likely test Western Balkan countries vying for bloc membership as they seek to align themselves with the EU acquis.

Last year, the EU agreed to implement the world’s first levy on imports of carbon-intensive goods as a way to incentivise its trade partners to have stronger climate policies and to protect its industries.

The measure will start to bite from 2026 and will include imports of carbon-intensive power, which could see a hefty levy on Western Balkan electricity entering the EU.

“This was a good wake-up moment for the region,” said Pippa Gallop, Southeast Europe energy advisor from the NGO CEE Bankwatch, speaking at a panel discussion hosted by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Dialogue Southeast Europe.

“Before, it was always really up to them how fast they want to advance their EU accession, how fast they want to go with the whole energy transition, but CBAM, because it’s an instrument, which is decided in the EU by the EU, this changed the whole setup,” she added.

Western Balkan countries now face three options. They can do nothing and face the CBAM levies from 2026, introduce carbon pricing to match EU climate policy and avoid it or take advantage of an exemption in the legislation to give breathing space until 2030.

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EurActiv, 6 Feb 2023: EU’s carbon levy poses new test for Western Balkan integration