On May 26-27, 2016, the REC participated in the fourth meeting of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Panel on Environment and Climate Change, which was organised by the Directorate-General for Environment (DG Environment) and the Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) of the European Commission. The meeting followed an ad hoc meeting of the EaP Panel on Environment and Climate Change, held on February 16, and focused on drafting the “Declaration on Cooperation on Environment and Climate Change in the Eastern Partnership”, which is expected to be adopted at a forthcoming EaP Ministerial Meeting in Luxembourg, scheduled for October 18.
In a multi-stakeholder consultation, representatives of EU member states and EaP governments, NGOs, international organisations and financial institutions, as well as the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), European External Action Service (EEAS), DG Environment and DG CLIMA, contributed to the draft ministerial declaration. Participants underscored the importance of regional cooperation on environment, climate action and sustainable development in the EaP.
Established in 2009, the EaP is a joint initiative involving the EU member states and six Eastern European partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Besides engaging in continuous bilateral and multilateral political dialogue, technical work is structured around four thematic platforms with multi-annual work programmes (currently 2014–2017). The work programmes reflect the main areas of cooperation between the EU and EaP: democracy, good governance and stability (Platform 1); economic integration and convergence with EU policies (Platform 2); energy security (Platform 3); and interpersonal contacts (Platform 4). The four thematic platforms established for the EaP’s multilateral track offer stakeholders flexible room for discussion in which experiences, best practices and lessons learned can be shared, compared, and spread among those who need them to support their own efforts.
Environment, part of Platform 2, is coordinated by the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (expert panels support the work of the thematic platforms on more specific subjects). The Panel on Environment and Climate Change was established within Platform 2 in November 2009 as a regional forum for dialogue and cooperation. It also serves to promote the greening of economies and best practices by aligning EaP countries’ environmental legislation with the EU acquis in the area of environment and climate change, while also building capacity and developing cooperation with regard to sustainable development and climate change. Recognised as a key partner in the EaP, the REC has a standing invitation to participate on the Panel on Environment and Climate Change.
The REC, with a mandate to support the transformation of the EaP, is building on its experience and proven success in supporting the democratisation process by strengthening local and participatory governance in countries that are in transition from centrally planned economies to democratic societies and free market economies. Support is offered through REC flagship projects — for example through the promotion of local environmental and energy action plans in local communities, the strengthening of capacities for environmental investment planning and preparation, the enhancement of civic engagement in municipalities in the EaP countries, and the institutionalisation of the sustainability concept into formal education, and through contributions to the EaP flagship project “Environmental Protection of International River Basins” (EPIRB).