24th EPA Network plenary meeting, Riga

On 23rd and 24th April, the Latvian Environment, Meteorology and Geology Centre hosted about 30 heads of EPAs from across Europe for their biannual meeting.

After being introduced to the work of the Latvian host agency and the environmental priorities of the Latvian EU presidency, participants followed up on a paper on the implementation of the 7th EAP that was sent to members of the European Commission, and the Environmental Committee of the European Parliament. EPA heads reported back from a meeting with EU Commission First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, who had invited a delegation from the network to discuss strategies for sustainable development and better environmental regulation as a response to the 7th EAP paper.

The plenary was updated on various activities in the EPA Network Interest Groups. The Interest Group Noise Abatement presented the main findings from its technical report on measures on rail traffic noise in the EU.

The newly established Interest Group West Balkans presented a set of priority actions for West Balkan EPAs as an outcome of their first meeting.

The Task Group Citizen Science announced a workshop in Copenhagen on 25-26 June 2015.

The Better Regulation Interest Group reported back from its joint meeting with the EU Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law and encouraged a stronger cooperation between the two networks. The plenary also looked into different opportunities to extend its cooperation with other networks.

Nicholas Banfield, DG ENV, gave an overview of the environmental priorities in the Commission’s work programme which include the air and the circular economy package, and a ‘fitness check’ of the birds and habitats directive. Renzo Tomellini, DG RTD presented ‘Horizon 2020’, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and elaborated on the various opportunities for EPAs becoming involved.

In a thematic session around Green Economy, the EPA heads looked into opportunities of how to support the EU process on greening the European Semester. They discussed examples for promoting a green economy from Iceland, Latvia and Germany, and commented on the draft agenda for the EPA Network Green Economy conference in Brussels on 5 June 2015.

In a session on upcoming topics, PBL presented an analysis on the potential effects of free trade agreements on environmental policy-making and environmental regulation. The Portuguese Environment Agency presented its new approach to integrated environmental licensing.

 The EPA Network plenary will convene on 24-25 November 2015 in Reykjavik for its autumn meeting.