Partners from the Western Balkans visit Vienna

Austrian Environment Agency experts provide support on the road into the European Union

© Umweltbundesamt/B. Gröger

Vienna, 23 September 2015 - A few days ago the directors and other high-ranking representatives from environment agencies and environment ministries of the Western Balkan countries met in Vienna. The purpose of the meeting was to exchange views about progress made in the adaptation to EU environmental standards and to discuss the next steps for collaboration towards EU accession. The meeting was hosted by the Umweltbundesamt (the Environment Agency Austria) which has been supporting the Western Balkan countries in the implementation of European Union Law and administrative capacity building for more than ten yours. “The meeting is an important element of cooperation with our partners in the region”, says Georg Rebernig, Managing Director of the Environment Agency Austria. “In foreign, economic and environmental policy, it is important that they find their way towards EU accession together. We assist our partners in this process by building bridges between institutions and ultimately contributing to a higher environmental quality in the whole of Europe.” And this process will be continued next week: When Snezana Bogosavljević-Bošković, Serbia’s Environment Minister, is coming to Vienna to have a bilateral meeting with Austria’s Environment Minister Andrä Rupprechter to inform herself amongst others about waste projects, a meeting with Georg Rebernig, the Managing Director of the Environment Agency Austria, will also be on the agenda.

 

The meeting in Vienna was attended by experts from Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania as well as Croatia and Slovakia, and by the Western Balkans Coordinator of the European Environment Agency. They exchanged views about the requirements of environmental monitoring, data quality and reporting that still needed to be fulfilled, and how they would be able to work together efficiently with the support of the EU at times when budgets are tight. Other topics included successful projects of the Environment Agency Austria with European environment agencies and current administrative partnerships with candidate countries and future accession countries.

The Environment Agency Austria: An experienced partner in the Western Balkans

 

The Environment Agency Austria has been active in the Western Balkan countries since 2004. Currently the Austrian experts are working closely together with institutions in Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia in the framework of administrative partnerships, so-called Twinning projects. Georg Rebernig stresses the importance of to the additional value delivered through these partnerships with the new and future EU member states. “In the course of our projects we build long-term partnerships that strengthen bilateral contacts beyond the duration of the Twinning project and create important connections for politics and business. In this way we provide an important contribution to environmental protection in the Western Balkans.”

 

The Environment Agency Austria in a nutshell

 

In 2015 the Environment Agency, Austria‘s largest expert organisation for environmental issues, is celebrating its 30th anniversary. With more than 450 staff members from 55 scientific disciplines, it is one of the largest employers in the environment sector in Austria today. In its 30-year history the Environment Agency Austria has, with its expertise, played a decisive role in shaping environmental protection and monitoring in Austria and in Europe. To meet challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity or the energy transition, the Environment Agency Austria develops strategies and solutions and provides them for decision-makers in politics, administration and the economy. At international level, the Environment Agency Austria is actively involved in more than 200 networks and bodies and provides advice e.g. to the European Parliament and the EU Commission.

 

Further information:
Petra Kestler, Environment Agency Press Office, Tel.: +43 (0)1 31304-5432