European Clocks Impacted by Kosovo-Serbia Conflict
Clocks across the European continent continue to run six minutes late after a disruption to the electric power grid — and the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo is responsible.
Since the slowdown began in mid-January, conventional clocks, as well as those on ovens, heating systems, and radios in 25 European countries are running late. This phenomenon is the newest example of how the interconnectedness of technology can cause national issues to lead to international problems.
While the risk is mainly reduced to people being late for work or missing appointments, the sheer magnitude of this occurrence leaves institutions worried about other possible technological consequences perpetuated by local struggles. The responsible organization, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO), the responsible organization, stated on Tuesday that "this average frequency deviation, that has never happened in any similar way in the Continental European power system, must cease".
The direct reason for this power issue lies in a shortfall of power supply caused by a power plant in Kosovo going down for repairs. However, the power plant issue simply marks one effect of a long-fought conflict between Kosovo and Serbia.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008 after a NATO bombing campaign ended the Kosovo War between ethnic Albanians, Muslims, and Serbians. However, while the EU frequently stressed the necessity of negotiations between the countries, many ethnic Serbs in the north of Kosovo, as well as the Serbian government, failed to recognize Kosovo’s authority.
Thus, Serbians refused to pay for electricity supplies from Kosovo, and instead, insisted to supply ethnic Serbs in Kosovo with their own electricity companies in 2015. While this agreement could have solved the electricity issue, Kosovo refused to sign the agreement as, according to Kosovo officials, it fails to recognize the existence of the former Serbian colony as an independent country.
While Serbia blames Kosovo for the failed power supply, ENTSO argues for Serbia’s obligation to meet Kosovo’s demand in order to provide electrical stability to the European country. The lack of sufficient power supply from Kosovo due to missing payments from Serb minorities in Kosovo’s north has thus far just affected countries in the middle of the continent, leaving most Scandinavian and British countries unaffected.
Until the issue is resolved, European countries will continue to experience fluctuations in the accuracy of their clocks. However, estimates say the European electricity system will stabilize itself again in a few weeks.