May 09, 2024

Copyright: Nenad Konstatinovic

As we mark Europe Day today, in honour of enduring peace and collective effort, our attention goes to EU’s current shared concern and joint determination to transform Europe to a modern, green living environment for all of us.

Every 9 May, Europeans celebrate Europe Day, honouring the inception of the continent’s political and economic integration, and the achievement of long-lasting peace through decades-long collective effort.

The celebration goes back to 1950, when Robert Schuman, then-French minister of foreign affairs, delivered his landmark declaration proposing that France and Germany join their coal and steel production. The foundation for today’s European Union was laid.

“Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity,” the French statesman said in his speech.

Today, his words resonate also in other contexts, such as the shared concern for the environment. European Union now stands united in join efforts to achieve environmental goals and create green, healthy, resilient living conditions for all Europeans, for all people of the world. As Schuman said – Europe will not be made at once, now we also know that building a green Europe also cannot be done at once. It takes effort, time and strong cooperation, but it can be achieved, by working together towards the same goal, for the benefit of all.

Climate change and environmental degradation have become an existential threat to Europe and the world. To overcome these challenges, the European Green Deal will transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. Consequently, through the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (GAWB), EU is supporting the region to efficiently implement steps, measures and changes of the Green Agenda, as stipulated in the Sofia Declaration to which Western Balkans leaders have committed in 2020.

EU4Green plays an important role in that. The project is devoted to enhance the Western Balkans transition to modern, resource-efficient and competitive economies where growth is decoupled from emissions of greenhouse gases, resource use and waste generation and where climate resilience is pursued.

EU4Green helps the six economies of the Western Balkans (WB6) to implement the GAWB in their national plans, actions and reforms, and further align and implement relevant EU acquis.

Through its activities the project eases the beneficiary coordination in all sectors and on different levels of authority, to ensure ownership of the process which includes the overall economy and society.

Through cooperation with governments, institutions, and civil society, EU4Green has organized many workshops and events that have engaged hundreds of participants from various sectors. As the level and intensity of cooperation grows through the project, in the coming year and a half the project will continue to organize various activities in several areas of the GAWB, paying close attention to each pillar of the Green Agenda and taking into account the specific needs of each of the WB6 economies.

These sessions are of core value to integrating environmental sustainability into public policy and practices. EU4Green efforts are focused on creating actionable strategies with ministries and partners, ensuring long-term success for the region’s ecological and economic landscape.

As we celebrate Europe today and, on that occasion, also EU4Green achievements, we remain committed to advancing our collaborative efforts. The project activities have not only fostered knowledge sharing but also strengthened partnerships across all levels of governance.

There is a lot of work in front of us, strong commitment and good cooperation are key for reaching goals of the European Green Deal and of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. Coming back to Schuman’s words – it cannot be done at once, but with joint forces and a shared commitment, it can and be done!