23rd EPA Network plenary meeting, Pristina

The meeting was hosted by the Kosovo Environment Protection Agency (KEPA) who welcomed 50 participants representing 30 environment agencies from across Europe.

The Network was pleased to welcome Nicholas Banfield, Acting Director of Strategy at DG Environment in the European Commission.

Ilir Morina, Chief Executive Officer of the Kosovo Environment Protection Agency, opened the meeting and chaired the first session. Shpetim Rudi, deputy Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, and Samuel Žbogar, European Union Special Representative in Kosovo, welcomed the Network. Participants learned about the state of the environment and environmental policy priorities in Kosovo during a host country presentation.

Following up on ongoing Network activities, the EPA Network paper “Recommendations for the new European Commission and European Parliament on implementing the 7th Environment Action Programme” was discussed, and was endorsed by 22 agencies. It was agreed to share the paper both with the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Security, as well as with the incoming EU Commission.

The plenary supported an updated work plan for the Interest Group (IG) on Green Economy. According to the plan, IG members will prepare an overview of the development of Green Economy in their respective countries, and discuss the findings in the IG. The Better Regulation Interest Group (BRIG) announced a joint meeting with the IMPEL Network on 30 October 2014 in Brussels. The Task Group on Citizen Science informed that they will contribute to an EU Commission Conference on Citizen Science on 4 December in Brussels.

One session was devoted to looking at the EPA Network objectives. Several proposals for improving Network activities resulted from this discussion.

In an update on EU environmental developments, Nicholas Banfield introduced the new structure of the incoming Commission and the new priority issues. Hans Bruyninckx informed that the next EEA report on “The European Environment – State and Outlook” (SOER 2015) will be officially launched on 4 March 2015 in Brussels. He invited EPAs to participate in national launch activities.

Further, the plenary discussed how newly established EPAs, in particular in the West Balkan region, can be effectively supported by the EPA Network. A new Interest Group “West Balkans” was established.

Several EPA Network members agreed to hold an EPA Network event on Green Economy in Brussels in 2015. UBA Austria informed about their recent activities on micro-plastics in the environment, and that they plan to organize a workshop on this issue.

The 24th EPA Network plenary meeting will take place in Riga on 23/24 April 2015.