The Western Balkans suffer from high and systemic corruption, which in certain cases has led to the capturing of regulatory functions and policies and/or to state capture. This has diminished general trust in public institutions and in elected politicians.
The Western Balkans have also become one of the regions in which Russia, amongst others, has increasingly sought to (re)assert its presence in the past decade. Thus far, the region has remained on its chosen course of EU integration towards a market economy and democratic transition.
Energy is, by nature, an area where multiple interests coincide – not only the interests of the state and public sectors but also that of the private sector, as well as those of foreign and international actors, which is why such a plurality of interests is usually treated as a baseline.
Creating energy policies that serve the wellbeing of citizens is not easy. Building infrastructure that delivers a privately produced product: energy; while maintaining important public sector services: security of supply, affordability and sustainability requires know-how, resources and a stable legal and investment framework. But put all this aside for a moment and think about the answer to a rather important question: Would the region of the Western Balkans be better off if oil, gas and good quality coal were no longer the most sought-after fuels worldwide but the sun, wind, water, earth energy and forests had replaced them? What would you say?