22nd EPA Network plenary meeting, Vienna

The European Network of the Heads of Environment Protection Agencies (EPA Network) held its 22nd plenary meeting in Vienna, Austria on 24-25 April 2014.

The meeting was hosted by the Austrian Federal Environment Agency (UBA). It was attended by more than 50 participants representing 27 environment organisations from across Europe. The Network was pleased to welcome Nicholas Banfield, Acting Director of Strategy at DG Environment in the European Commission, Austrian MEP Ulrike Lunacek and Raymond Bourdeaux from the World Bank country unit for Southeast Europe, to the meeting.

The meeting was opened by Georg Rebernig, Managing Director of UBA Vienna. Karl Kienzl, Deputy Managing Director of UBA Vienna, presented an overview of key strategic topics for UBA Vienna as well as information on the Austrian state of the environment. Acting EPA Network secretary Malene Bruun reported on Network activities since the last Plenary, including two thematic workshops on environmental liabilities and citizen science. The new Network secretary, Diana Nissler, introduced herself to the plenary.  

The plenary was updated on the progress of the EPA Network Interest Groups. IG Natural Resources is starting a new project to explore the nexus between GHG mitigation and resource efficiency, jointly with the Eionet group of National Reference Centres (NRCs) for Forward Looking Information and Services (FLIS). A workshop will be held during the European Resources Forum in Berlin (10-11 November 2014), and results will be shared during the EPA Network meeting in spring 2015. The Better Regulation Interest Group (BRIG) reported from a joint meeting with IMPEL and DG Environment on the Industrial Emissions Directive, which took place in October 2013. IG Noise Abatement is currently finalizing a report on railway noise that is going to be presented to the EPA Network plenary in autumn 2014.

During the subsequent session, Nicholas Banfield presented the 7th Environmental Action Programme of the EU. Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director at the EEA, gave an overview of recent EEA priorities and activities, and Ulrike Lunacek offered her view on future environmental priorities in Europe. The plenary discussed the possibility of producing a paper highlighting the importance of the environmental priorities listed in the 7th EAP during the next institutional period.

Regional cooperation between EPAs, with a particular regard to the West Balkan area, was discussed during the Friday morning session. The Croatian and Serbian EPAs presented their work and highlighted challenges related to state of the environment reporting in the region. The World Bank and UBA Germany both shared some of their experiences from the region.

During the last session, initial plans for the next plenary meeting in Kosovo were shared.

The 23rd EPA Network plenary meeting will take place in Pristina on 25/26 September 2014.