All in favour

February 13, 2014

New seat agreement reached between the Government of Hungary and the REC

Orszghz_35On February 3, 2014, Gabor Baranyai, deputy state secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, and Marta Szigeti Bonifert, executive director of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC), signed a Headquarters Agreement between the Government of Hungary and the REC. The Headquarters Agreement novates the bilateral agreement concluded in 1995 and reflects on the organisation's international legal status, as reconfirmed in 2012 through the entry into force of the international agreement of the REC. The Hungarian Parliament ratified the agreement today without objection.

According to the Headquarters Agreement, the Hungarian Government recognises that the REC is an international organisation with international legal personality, granting the REC and its staff privileges and immunities similar to those of UN Specialised Agencies. With the signing of the Headquarters Agreement, the Hungarian Government reaffirms its support for the mission of the REC to assist in addressing environmental issues mainly in Central and Eastern Europe through the promotion of international cooperation of governments and environmental experts, the free exchange of information and public participation in environmental decision-making.

The signing also marks a milestone in the status harmonisation process of the REC which was initiated by the Signatories to the Charter of the REC at the organisation's 15th Anniversary in 2005, then reiterated at the organisation's 20th Anniversary. In Hungary, the first significant stage in this process was on November 7, 2011 when the Hungarian Minister of Rural Development Sandor Fazekas signed the international agreement, along with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Latvia, Montenegro, and Ukraine. The REC welcomes the initiatives of other countries of operation to pursue the same process by signing the international agreement followed by concluding a bilateral host country agreement.

Achieving harmonised status as an international organisation will create more favourable conditions for direct funding and operating. As a consequence, the development of services and products - including the initiation of new flagship programmes for environmental stakeholders - will be increased. It will also result in broadening the scope of regional and national programmes, to the advantage of both the REC and its many beneficiaries. As an international organisation with national presence, the REC will be able to capitalise on its strong network and offer a framework for substantive policy discussions in the foreseeable future.