European Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonero told N1 on Friday that the European Union supports Serbia’s efforts to attract EU partners and investments and feels that Rio Tinto’s Jadar project is a development opportunity if it meets environmental standards.
“The Jadar project is a very good opportunity for the socio-economic development of Serbia provided it respects the highest environmental standards. The EU also supports Serbia in its efforts to attract EU partners and investments in view of creating a sustainable, vertically integrated critical raw materials and battery value chains,” she said in a written reply to N1.
Pisonero said that the EU welcomes the Serbian government’s statement that it will apply the highest level of environmental protection standards to the Jadar lithium mine project in western Serbia but added that the support is conditional on the regulatory framework and practices being fully aligned with the EU’s environment rules, including on waste and water management.
“We will continue to follow closely the project,” Pisonero said.
The statement is likely to help Belgrade in trying to persuade people potentially affected by the Rio Tinto lithium mining in western Serbia, despite the environmentalists, experts, NGO’s and local people saying it would have devastating effects not only on the mining but the wider area as well.
They announced the mass blockades across the country in the second in a row protest over two recently passed laws they saw favouring the Anglo-Australian multinational company’s plan to mine lithium in Serbia.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnbaic reiterated on Friday, a day ahead of the environmentalists’ protests, that they had nothing to do with the controversial laws on referendum and expropriation but with politics.