6th EPA Network plenary meeting, Vienna

The Network of Heads of European Environment Protection Agencies held its 6th meeting in Vienna, Austria, 13 - 14 March 2006. Representatives from agencies from 22 countries attended, as well as the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. The meeting was hosted by UBA, the Environment Protection Agency of Austria.

In the first session, the Austrian hosts gave the Network an insight into the way the Environment Protection Agency functions. The second session was devoted to internal matters of the Network, priorities and needs. It was agreed to set up a working group on practical arrangements with the specific mandate to identify the needs and propose a budget for future additional support to the Network.

The third session dealt with data monitoring and reporting. The Commission gave an overview of the financial perspective relating especially to LIFE+ (A financial instrument for the environment which will in particular be supporting the implementation of the 6th EAP including the thematic strategies, and finance measures and projects including European added value). It was followed by contributions from EEA, Austria, Norway and Italy on biodiversity monitoring, GEO/GMES and in particular the SEIS (Shared Environmental Information System) aiming at improving the quality and availability of environmental information, yet at the same time reducing the administrative burden.

On the second day the Network covered the progress of work of four interest groups.

  • The interest group on Climate change and adaptation put forward a recommendation as contribution to the Green Paper of the Commission and the Network agreed to communicate it to the Commission. The group will continue with UBA, Germany, in lead and focus its activities on adaptation strategies.
  • The interest group on better regulation has been working on a follow-up to the Prague statement. The intention is to present it further in Brussels. A number of members have used the report internally. The next step for the group under the lead of the EA England and Wales is to prepare a diagnostic tool on barriers to better regulation and present it in Dessau in September 2006.
  • The interest group on agriculture agreed to cease its work and hand over the task to an IG on biodiversity (see below).
  • The interest group on sustainable use of natural resources presented the status of its contribution paper. Some members do not have the responsibility of use of natural resources within their remits and while most had no objections to the findings in the draft text some were not in a formal position to support it.
  • The Network considered the need for an IG on Biodiversity. BfN, Germany offered to head this group and come with suggestions on the main work area at the next meeting.
  • Italy suggested to take the lead with a new interest group looking at Contaminated Sites Remediation.
  • SEPA proposed to review the questionnaire circulated in 2004 and to propose some new activities for the interest group on environment and health for the next meeting.

At the end of the meeting the Network discussed the need for having a common website and possibly a brochure to communicate to the public.