REC’s dissolution set to mark the end of an era

The times have changed, the environment too. But our efforts today will help ensure REC’s legacy lives on.

September 26, 2020 | By Jerome Simpson

After 30 landmark years, which has seen REC contribute to regional cooperation, experience exchange and myriad activities dedicated to environmental protection across central and eastern Europe, the Szentendre-based international organisation is set to close.

It was at the beginning of 2019 that the signatory countries of the REC’s Charter agreed to dissolve the organisation, in accordance with Article 7.2 of its charter.

Subsequent efforts have been dedicated to this end, with REC pursuing a dissolution ‘roadmap’, that was endorsed by signatories in July of that year.

It was only on September 21st, 2020, however, following discussions between the REC and the Hungarian government and according to its internal procedures, that the government adopted both a decree (435/2020) and a decision (1591/2020) that were essential for proceeding with the REC’s closure. The organisation will now cease to exist on November 1st, 2021.

According to the decision, the following activities are foreseen:

  • An inter-ministerial communication by REC during its tenancy (to be transmitted by October 31st, 2020);
  • The termination of the REC’s property agreement (dating back to based on the aforementioned inter-ministerial communication, within 120 days (i.e. February 28th, 2021); and
  • The subsequent reimbursement of the REC.

In addition, the necessary steps for the termination of the REC’s legal status according to Decree 158/2012 and with respect to the Headquarters Agreement, i.e. Act XIII of 2014, shall be undertaken by November 30th, 2020.

“I trust that the Hungarian government’s actions will encourage other signatories to act, thus contributing to the achievement of the roadmap,” noted REC’s Acting Executive Director, Dejan Komatina.

For the handful of staff who remain, it’s not easy on the soul, witnessing the conclusion of an organisation, some of whom joined in its infancy (or theirs). The corridors and offices are empty, the porters and cleaners have moved on, but a handful unlock the door each day, and bring an occasional hint of chatter or footfall to a floor. They have played their part in ensuring the head office’s former and concluding projects are donor compliant and audit-ready, for when the legal assessment gets underway.

Lest we forget, the REC was not solely an office in Szentendre, but a network constituted by offices across central and eastern Europe. A protocol on the disintegration of REC’s offices was approved by REC’s signatories in July 2020, that allows for the continuation of their work in a number of beneficiary countries, either through their separation from the network or through their succession by new legal entities.

In this way, REC’s heritage will be preserved in a number of countries, thereby continuing to provide benefits to the region. So far, new entities (local environmental NGOs led by former country office staff) have been established in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Turkey. REC’s office in Poland is yet to be legally separated from REC.

It is almost time to write REC’s eulogy, one that would bring to a close a story which began when President George Bush senior visited the then Karl Marx University in Budapest on December 7th, 1989. On that momentous occasion he confirmed the founding of an international environmental center for central and eastern Europe, whose intent would be to address the ecological crisis through east-west multi-stakeholder cooperation.

The times have changed, the environment too. But our efforts today will help ensure REC’s legacy lives on.

TAGS: dissolution | heritage | legacy