EU and the Eastern partners strengthen cooperation on environment and climate action

The second Eastern Partnership (EaP) formal ministerial meeting on environment and climate change took place yesterday in Luxembourg, co-organised by the European Commission and Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The EU and the Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) met to jointly review progress on the goals and priorities set at the first Ministerial meeting in 2016.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said: “Our cooperation on environment with the Eastern Partner countries is stronger than ever. We have seen numerous actions implemented as well as progress in environmental legislation. Further work on the implementation of new legislation, on mainstreaming environmental principles and the principles of a circular economy into other policy areas is still needed, and I am confident that EU assistance in this area will contribute to achieving tangible results.

Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said: “The year 2018 is a very important year for climate action. At the international climate conference in Poland in December, we will have to operationalise the Paris Agreement on Climate change by agreeing on the rules necessary for setting it in motion. The international community will also need to take bold steps of increasing ambition to close the remaining gap to reach the goals agreed in Paris. Today’s meeting has helped the EU and its Eastern Partners to join forces in this challenge.”

Elisabeth Köstinger, Austrian Federal Minister for Sustainability and Tourism said: “We had a good and constructive second joint ministerial meeting. Great progress has been made in the Eastern Partner countries since the last joint meeting in 2016. Nevertheless, transboundary environmental and climate challenges need further common attention to align economic development with the strengthening of environmental standards. We are looking forward to further cooperate with the Eastern Partners.”

The ministers acknowledged progress made since 2016, in particular in relation to the ratification of the Paris Agreement and policy and legislative changes on water, the green economy, and on environmental assessments. They also welcomed broad stakeholder involvement in addressing key environmental concerns, focussing in particular on the challenges, and opportunities, associated with a transition to a circular economy and sustainable waste management.. The Ministers reaffirmed the need to keep environment and climate action high on political and economic agendas.

Further EU support to Eastern Partner countries to modernise the economy with a focus on action on the environment, circular economy and climate to reduce emissions will be provided through the new EU-funded programmes ‘EU4Environment’ and ‘EU4Climate’. The EU4Environment programme (with €19.5 million in EU funding) aims at helping the Eastern Partner countries to preserve their natural capital and increase people’s environmental well-being. The EU4Climate programme (with €8 million in EU funding) is designed to support implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and to improve climate policies and legislation.

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