The Eastern Partnership created in 2011 builds on the willingness of the six Eastern neighbours - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine - to come closer to the European Union and to align their policies and legislation.
Environmental cooperation with these countries has increased in importance after EU 2004 enlargement leading to enhanced cross-border interactions and common interest in our shared environment. These countries share a legacy of environmental problems from the past, they also face new pressures as they return to economic growth. These include low energy efficiency, the poor state of environmental infrastructure, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, and air pollution.
Although environmental legislation is being up-dated, administrative capacity, enforcement of legal acts and public participation and awareness of environmental challenges need to be increased. There are important links between poverty and environmental factors such as access to clean drinking water in some of the countries. The region also possesses vast natural and vulnerable areas, which require management and protection. Addressing trans-boundary pollution is a complex issue, which includes ensuring that the institutional and legal frameworks are in place to address it efficiently. Many of the EU Eastern countries need to strengthen the procedures for implementing commitments under multilateral environmental agreements and their capacity for implementing multi-country projects financed by international organisations and donors.
Better environmental policies bring significant economic and social benefits as has been shown in the new Member States of the EU. A recent study provides a sound analysis for ENP countries on the social and economic benefits of enhanced environmental protection.
The EU and the six countries adopted a Roadmap to the autumn Eastern Partnership 2013 Summit in Vilnius which aimed at monitoring the Eastern Partnership reform process including in the area of environment. To recognize the importance of environment under the Eastern Partnership, a flagship initiative focused on strengthening environmental governance was launched and allowed to extend to the partner countries the EU Shared Environmental Information System.
In the EaP Vilnius Declaration in November 2013 environment was stressed as one of priority areas for co-operation with the Eastern partners - regarded as being mutually beneficial from both an environmental and economic perspective.
The fourth Eastern Partnership Summit is going to be held in Riga in May 2015, it will be an opportunity to evaluate progress achieved in political association and economic integration and to further develop the relationship between the EU and its Eastern Partners. It will serve as consultation framework for the ENP Review.
Convergence with EU environmental legislation in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia: a Guide (pdf~3M)