15th EPA Network plenary meeting, Krakow

The Network of Heads of Environment Protection Agencies held its 15th plenary meeting in Krakow, on 16 - 17 September 2010.

The 50 participants represented 27 agencies and came from 22 European countries as well as from the European Environment Agency. DG Environment from the European Commission who regularly attends the plenary meetings on invitation was absent at this meeting.

The meeting was opened by Chief Inspector of Environmental Protection (GIOS) Andrzej Jagusiewicz on behalf of the host country followed by a welcome speech by the Vice President of the City of Krakow professor. Jacek Majchrowski.  Thereafter, Poland presented an overview of GIOS work, national fund as pillar of financing system of environmental protection, achievements in a transformed society and the environmental challenges the country is facing. The presentations was followed by a video showing modern Poland.

EEA informed the members about the most recent political developments in Europe in relation to the work of EPAs for whom the EU 2020 Strategy is likely to play a major role.

In the session on Greening the economy and 7EAP, Spain circulated a paper on draft objectives of a possible Interest Group on Green Economy. Members of the EPA Network agreed to establish an interest group and left it to the group to decide upon its focus. EA England and Wales informed the meeting on the progress regarding correspondence to the Commission on priorities for a 7th Environment Action Programme. A draft position paper containing suggestions and evidence from the  EPA Network  was discussed . The meeting agreed to send it to the Commission and to follow up with a meeting with Environment Commissioner, Janez Potocnik.

During the session on Better Regulation EA England and Wales informed members about the outcome of two surveys a) How members of the Network prioritise their regulatory effort on target business sectors and b) The implementation of the Water Framework Directive. Finally, a template for a survey on sanctions for environmental offences was discussed and it was agreed to send the finalized survey form to Network members.

The Interest group on Climate Change and Adaptation led by PBL, Netherlands, informed the meeting of its findings and activities. The IG has been very active and the number of members participating in the group is still increasing. The group works in close cooperation with the Commission and it has potential role within the EU Clearinghouse on Climate Change and Adaptation.

PBL also introduced its work on their analysis and assessment of the Fourth IPCC assessment report. In short, the study did not find any errors that would undermine the main conclusions in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on possible future regional impacts of climate change. However, in some instances the foundations for the summary statements should have been made more transparent. PBL believes that the IPCC should invest more in quality control in order to prevent mistakes and shortcomings, to the extent possible.

Under the agenda item Noise EEA gave a presentation on updated figures on noise exposure in Europe. Then GIOS Poland and FOEN Switzerland presented background information and a proposal for a working group on Traffic Noise. The network agreed to the description of activities of an Interest Group.

During the session EPA’s at work Poland informed the plenary about the upcoming Polish presidency and the draft program.

FOEN, Switzerland informed the meeting about activities of the Joint ENCA/ EPA interest group on GMOs. The focus of the work at present is on the development of a Guidance Document on ERA (Environment Risk Assessment) by EFSA where the group is calling for improvements. For earlier comments to EFSA see joint correspondence.

The Interest Group on Natural Resources, led by UBA, Germany, finalized its RMI (Raw Material Initiative) paper ‘Proposal regarding the detailed development of the European Raw Material Initiative’. The IG will submit it to DG Enterprise at Industry’s public consultation on the RMI as an IG Paper.

The interest group on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), led by SEPA Scotland, informed the plenary about a meeting to be held in Oslo on 30 Sept 2010 where the focus will be on the state of play in present knowledge, pilot projects and possible BAT as well as the recent UK test process to review the preparation of a licensing case.

The interest group on Quality Management, under the leadership of the ARSO Slovenia EPA, is collecting information on indicators of processes within EPAs. Bilateral cooperation’s with interested EPAs are planned.

The interest group on Contaminated Sites and Soil Protection, led by ISPRA, Italy, presented a revised objective in the light of discussion in Bilbao where members recognized issues of soil as part of the approach to remediate the effects of Climate Change. The changed scope will be discussed further by interested members.

The interest group on Biodiversity, led by EA, England and Wales, informed the meeting about the joint work with ENCA and the planned joint meeting between EPA Network, ENCA Network and EIONET during spring next year.

The interest group on International Cooperation, led by the Climate and Pollution Agency (Norway), submitted a written report to the EPA-meeting. There has been limited activity in the group since the previous EPA-meeting.

On new and emerging issues Umweltbundesamt (Environment Agency Austria, EAA) informed the members about the outcome of the workshop EUROPE Vision 2050 held in Berlin and next steps. Members discussed also shortly the Research FP8 (Framework Programme 8)

Poland informed that it will organize the 3rd International Dialogue on Dumped Chemical Munitions in Sopot from 14 to 15 April 2011

The next plenary meeting will take place in St Julian, Malta on 27 – 29 March 2011.