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The Environmental Impact of Chinese Projects in the Western Balkans

Image source: CHOICE

For years now, China has been trying to put a “green” label on its economic engagement under the auspices of its international Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, the reality on the ground has often been starkly different than the rosy labels affixed to its projects. This is perhaps most evident in China’s track record within the EU’s immediate neighborhood, the Western Balkans.

In a new CHOICE Policy Paper, Mirela Petkova analyzes the environmental impact of five selected China-financed projects in the Western Balkans, specifically in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Petkova further examines the role of the nongovernmental organizations in uncovering the misconduct of Chinese companies, lax enforcement of regulations by local institutions and governments, as well as local activists’ crucial importance in advocating for positive change.

Finally, the policy paper offers a set of recommendations addressed at local stakeholders, NGOs themselves, as well as the EU. For the latter, advice is offered on how the bloc can step up its normative role and work towards improving environmental compliance and good governance practices in the neighborhood countries aspiring for EU accession. 


Written by

Mirela Petkova


Mirela Petkova is a freelance researcher and a Data Analyst for Energy Monitor, Bulgaria. She has previously worked as a Junior Researcher at the Clingendael China Centre, the Netherlands. She is an alumna of the University of Groningen.