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Regional cooperation

Regional cooperation is an important component of the enlargement process, complementary to the bilateral cooperation. The regional cooperation process has been supported over the last years in the form of environmental cooperation programmes aiming to facilitate the communication and cooperation between the beneficiary countries in addressing transboundary environmental issues while also facilitating the exchange of information, best practices and experience between the beneficiaries and the Member States.

Regional Environmental Network for Accession (RENA)

The European Commission was the driving force in the development of the Regional Environmental Reconstruction Programme (known as REReP) between 2000-2009.
In June 2007, a meeting of Ministers for Environment from the Western Balkans and Turkey was organised in Brussels to launch an enhanced regional cooperation process in the field of environment, the Regional Environmental Network for Accession (RENA). The programme was running from 2010-2013 and aimed:

  • to facilitate exchange of experience and best practice between the Member States, the candidate countries and the potential candidates as well as among the participating countries;
  • to help jointly tackle environmental challenges and provide a forum for the Commission to communicate to the concerned countries the recent developments in the EU environmental policy.

Regional Environment and Climate Regional Accession Network (ECRAN)

The need for a new programme was recognized and formally endorsed by Ministers of the region in September 2012 during the Ministerial Meeting. As a follow-up to RENA project, the Environment and Climate Regional Accession Network (ECRAN) project was running between 2013-2016 and aimed:

  • to continue strengthening regional cooperation in the fields of environment and climate action;
  • to assist the beneficiary countries on their way towards the transposition and implementation of the EU environmental and climate policies and instruments which is a key precondition for EU accession.

The work was done under working groups specialised in environmental (air, nature protection, water, waste, chemicals, etc) and climate (monitoring mechanism, emissions trading system, adaptation, etc) sectors.
In order to foster the dialogue and the cooperation between the public sector and the civil society, a separate pillar of ECRAN was dedicated to the work of NGOs under the so-called NGOs Environment and Climate Forum (ECF). The ECF is the follow-up to the NGOs Environment Forum project that ended in January 2012.

More information is available on the ECRAN website.

A follow-up project to ECRAN to cover the period 2017-2020 is currently under preparation.

South East Europe Waste Assessment (SEEWA)

Within the EU environmental acquis, waste is one of the most demanding sectors in terms of the resources needed, both human and financial, for the transposition of the relevant EU legislation, and the implementation of measures designed to achieve the outcomes sought.

In order to assist EU candidates and potential candidates with the alignment of the waste legislation, the European Commission (on the request of the European Parliament) commissioned a study entitled: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Current Waste Management Situation in South East Europe and Future Perspectives for the Sector Including Options for Regional Co-operation in Recycling of Electrical and Electronic Waste (also known as the South East Europe Waste Assessment (SEEWA)).

The Study covering six countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, had several components:

  • elaboration of National Waste Assessments (NWAs) for each beneficiary and related roadmaps with country specific recommendations. The roadmaps, prepared in consultation with the concerned national authorities, are expected to help the authorities to address the key obstacles to approximation in the waste sector. 
  • compliance checks of the waste legislation of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
  • analysis of the potential for regional cooperation between the beneficiary countries in the area of electrical and electronic waste (WEEE).

The final deliverables of the project are available below: