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The western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Republic of Macedonia share the desire to join the European Union. Two of these countries — Albania and Macedonia — are particularly close to accession. we spoke to several lawyers to learn more about how accession could affect the business landscape and the work of lawyers in the two countries.

Slovenia: Fine-Tuning of the Tax System

In the beginning of 2018, Slovenia introduced several minor and mainly administrative changes to its tax legislation, mostly addressing and resolving inconsistencies in the legislation that had been detected in practice. 

Patricia Gannon is a founder and Senior Partner at Karanovic & Nikolic, where she focuses primarily on the management, business development, strategy, and expansion of the firm. Gannon qualified as a Solicitor in Ireland and after a short period working at the European Commission in Brussels she moved to Serbia and founded the firm. She is a committed advocate of corporate philanthropy, and was amongst the founding members of the Serbian Charity Forum, an umbrella forum of leading foundations in the country.

Macedonia has started the process of liberalizing and privatizing the energy market as an obligation deriving from the Treaty establishing the Energy Community signed on October 25, 2005 in Athens (the “Treaty”).

For various reasons, 2017 was a remarkable year for the electricity sector in Ukraine. Chief among them, no doubt, was the long-awaited adoption of the new law on the electricity market. Ukraine’s electricity market has been liberalized not only because of the country’s commitments under the EU Third Energy Package, but also as the benefits of competition became evident in the wholesale gas market. This liberalization started almost three years ago and is still on-going, though admittedly not without challenges.

On the first anniversary of the introduction of Hungary’s long-awaited renewable energy support scheme (known as “METAR”), we look back at its first year and ahead to the future of renewable energy in Hungary from a legal perspective.

The Slovak energy market is in a state of transition. Energy security continues to be a key driver of the country’s energy policy. Long characterized by its reliance on gas from the Russian Federation, Slovakia continues to seek alternative sources to supply its energy needs. To a large extent, the solution has been to invest billions into nuclear power, while the development of renewable energy sources (RES) has so far been slow.

In Western Europe, offshore wind farms have been successfully used for a long time. Meanwhile, no power-generating installation of this type is currently operating on the waters of the Baltic Sea under Polish control.

Greece has long been a regional energy market. However, drastic changes have been taking place which have the potential to transform Greece to an energy hub in the South Eastern Mediterranean region. The first step was made with the inauguration of the Greek-Turkish gas pipeline at the beginning of the millennium.   

The first recorded energy performance contracting project in Slovenia was carried out in 2002, and was soon followed by a number of other similar projects, notably in the public sector. Thus, energy performance contracts are not a new concept in the Slovenian business sphere, although it was not until 2014 that the country’s newly adopted Energy Act transposed Directive 2012/27/EC on energy efficiency and introduced a comprehensive definition of an energy performance contract. 

The Serbian Minister for Mining and Energy recently stated that Serbia will manage to fulfill its obligation and reach the target of 27% of total energy consumption from renewables by 2020. The statement followed a stream of positive news in relation to development of several large-scale wind power projects in Serbia, such as Cibuk I, Kovacica, and Alibunar. 

The Lithuanian energy sector, like the European Union’s, faces the challenging task of finding an effective and competitive way to transition to clean energy while at the same time ensuring a secure energy supply. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and prosumers are first priorities.

Over the last years, Croatia has produced more electricity from renewable than from fossil sources. The share of renewables in electric energy generation varies depending on hydrological conditions, as the majority of electric energy in Croatia is generated from large hydropower plants.

The first upscale exploration of oil and gas in Montenegro started in 1914, when King Nikola Petrovic approved the National Assembly’s decision for oil exploration around Lake Skadar. The first well in the area of Crmnica dates back to 1922 – although it produced nothing of significance.

For the past five years the financial market in Slovenia has been characterized by a process involving the selling of non-performing loan and leasing receivables (“Receivables”), mostly to foreign investors. According to information published by the Bank of Slovenia, Slovenian banks still have approximately EUR 1.5 billion of non-performing loans on their balance sheets, and we expect to see more of these loans being sold in the next two years. 

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