Within this area of expertise, the REC provides assistance in environmental law development; the enforcement and implementation of national and international legislation; progress monitoring and compliance checking; the transposition and implementation of the EU environmental acquis; and combating environmental crime. Regarding enviornmental financing, the REC implements technical assistance and research projects on various aspects of green economy in a number of areas, including water, waste and climate change. There is great emphasis on switching to a low-carbon economy, with particular focus on the role of financial instruments and the integration of environmental and climate change issues in EU funds at the level of programming and project implementation.
Within the domain of law and governance, the main objectives are to:
- support the efficient and effective development of comprehensive legislative frameworks in compliance with the EU environmental acquis through the application of a regional strategic approach that encourages dialogue and cooperation, the sharing of outputs and solutions, and the joint implementation of activities;
- support the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements;
- increase the effectiveness of enforcement agencies, inspectorates, the judiciary, police and other relevant bodies in relation to compliance with environmental legislation;
- improve the exchange of experience and knowledge with EU member states through stronger cooperation with enforcement networks, as well as through training and exchange programmes;
- develop enforcement capacities in target countries in order to reduce the incidence of specific crimes in the environmental field; and
- strengthen regional and international networking among environmental inspectors, permit writers, judges, prosecutors and police by creating a new regional network for combating illegal lodging and environmental crime.
Regarding environmental financing, the REC aims to:
- contribute to policy and sectoral discussions on aspects of green economy, especially the role of financial instruments but also the greening of sectors such as water and waste;
- contribute to the analysis of existing financial and fiscal instruments in the EU and their reform;
- further support strategic environmental investment planning in South Eastern Europe and an opening up to Eastern Partnership countries;
- support European regions to shift towards low-carbon, resource-efficient and climate-friendly economies;
- support the better integration of environmental concerns into EU Structural and Cohesion Funds, regional policy instruments and development programmes and the financial instruments of international financial institutions; and promote clean fuels in South Eastern Europe and fuel economy in Central and Eastern Europe and the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.
The REC carries out legal analyses and develops capacity-building and legal governance tools, including principles, voluntary codes, and instruments on issues of regional importance. It also contributes to the development of systems of legal responsibility, such as civil and criminal liability. It works in cooperation with government bodies such as ministries and agencies responsible for both the development and enforcement of legislation, the judiciary, the European Commission, and international organisations and institutions.
Specific activities include:
- assisting in the transposition and implementation of the EU environmental acquis by offering provisions for progress monitoring and compliance checking;
- assisting in the practical implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation by providing capacity building to enforcement agencies and inspectorates;
- drafting technical assessments analysing the conformity of member states’ national measures with certain directives in the environmental sector;
- assisting in the enforcement of environmental crime legislation by providing capacity building to police officers, prosecutors and customs officers and by raising the awareness of the courts and magistrates;
- assisting in the design of national and regional action plans for combating illegal logging and providing capacity-building programmes focusing on forest management and combating illegal logging; and
- facilitating bilateral arrangements for the transboundary management of water resources.
Within this broad area of expertise, the REC's work includes undertaking analytical studies, capacity building and establishing cooperation frameworks among environmental decision makers (ministries of environment, national and regional environmental authorities, infrastructure project proponents, as well as international financial institutions). Specific activities include:
- assisting EU regions to make a shift towards a low-carbon economy and to green different sectors of their economies;
- studying and designing innovative economic instruments;
- analysing the implications of different EU policies for the green economy;
- assisting in strategic environmental investment planning, including the identification and prioritisation of environmental infrastructure investment projects; and in the formulation of investment projects at national and municipal levels;
- promoting environmental integration in EU funds as well as national and regional development funds at the level of programming, project selection and monitoring;
- assisting countries and regional authorities to increase their absorption capacity for EU funds and creating a better understanding of changes in the EU Cohesion Policy;
- collaborating with the European Network for Environmental Authorities and Managing Authorities (ENEA-MA) on the integration of environmental and sustainable development issues within the EU Cohesion policy funds;
- promoting the environmental accountability of international financial institutions through common work with the Financial Initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (although not exclusively); and
- promoting the use of clean fuels and vehicles as well as fuel economy in the Central and Eastern European region.