Environment Ministers to protect Danube-Black Sea region

EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom and Environment Ministers of the Danube-Black Sea Region met in Brussels on November 26th to sign a joint Declaration and create a new task force (DABLAS Task Force) for co-operation on water protection in the region.

The region suffers from acute environmental and health problems and strong regional actions are needed to restore the environment to a state that is acceptable for the people to live in, says the conservation organisation WWF.

The EU meeting aims to give a boost to the regional co-operation in the Danube-Black Sea area. The declaration formalises the Environment Ministers’ aim to improve the water quality of the region, their wish to strengthen co-operation, and to pursue regional priorities for water protection and improvement projects. It also endorses the European Commission’s proposal to establish an informal task force for co-operation on water related issues in the Danube and Black Sea Region (The DABLAS Task Force).

A statement from the WWF supports the implementation of the EC’s Water Framework Directive in the region, with its emphasis on ecological objectives, river basin management and public participation. However, WWF argues that environmental concerns are often not integrated into other sectors – especially agriculture and public transport. Further, funds are often not currently allocated to environmentally beneficial projects. In some cases, funds are actually achieving, or could achieve, the reverse.

WWF recommends a review of the effects of EU instruments and policies – especially the Common Agricultural Policy – on the region and their improved integration into the EC’s recent rehabilitation initiatives. It further recommends the re-establishment by the EC of a truly regional multi-country funding programme for environmental assistance with co-ordinated Community financial instruments.

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